The stock market dropped sharply on Friday – the last day of futures rollover week – as investors were worried about the impact of Delta variant of coronavirus on Pakistan’s economic recovery.

During the trading session, a provincial coronavirus task force meeting was held, which decided to impose lockdown in Sindh from Saturday (July 31) till August 8 amid rising Covid-19 cases.

The report played on investors’ mind and dragged the market down in the second half of the session as the re-introduction of curbs would deal a significant blow to the recovering economy.

Earlier, trading kicked off on a positive note and the index posted gains during the first half of the session. However, the market succumbed to weak investor interest when trading resumed in the second half and dipped due to selling pressure.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 257.04 points, or 0.54%, to settle at 47,055.29.

Arif Habib Limited, in its report, stated that with the optimism of deferring the Covid lockdown, the market added 330 points earlier in the session, however, the government’s decision to impose a strict lockdown in the face of rising Covid-19 cases eroded all the gains and sent the index tumbling.

Banks, oil and gas marketing companies, cement, chemical, refinery and technology sectors bore the brunt of the lockdown news whereas the steel sector performed well due to the announcement of a price increase by flat steel manufacturers, it added.

Sectors contributing to the performance included technology (-54 points), fertiliser (-45 points), cement (-35 points), banks (-27 points) and textile (-17 points).

Individually, stocks that contributed positively to the index included Engro Fertilisers (+12 points), Meezan Bank (+11 points), Pakistan Stock Exchange (+10 points), Habib Metropolitan Bank (+9 points) and Standard Chartered Bank (+8 points).

Stocks that contributed negatively were TRG Pakistan (-47 points), Fauji Fertiliser (-44 points), HBL (-39 points), Lucky Cement (-23 points) and Pakistan Petroleum (-17 points).

Overall trading volumes surged to 399.1 million shares compared with Thursday’s tally of 376.4 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs13.8 billion.

Shares of 407 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 139 stocks closed higher, 252 declined and 16 remained unchanged.

WorldCall Telecom was the volume leader with 39.2 million shares, gaining Rs0.04 to close at Rs3.46. It was followed by Byco Petroleum with 38.4 million shares, losing Rs0.22 to close at Rs9.77 and Telecard Limited with 24.6 million shares, gaining Rs0.45 to close at Rs15.52.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs158.1 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.