Stocks struggled to find a floor on Wednesday as bears staged a comeback on worries over economic headwinds after Tuesday’s brief respite.

Bears took control of the market and the benchmark KSE-100 index endured another round of battering, falling over 350 points in intraday trading.

Stocks lost ground in the wake of redemption of mutual funds, which dented investors’ sentiment. The sell-off intensified due to a lack of positive triggers and an uncertain political and economic outlook. Investors remained cautious throughout the trading session.

Market participants were also wary ahead of the monetary policy announcement by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on January 22.

In the morning, trading kicked off on a negative note and the KSE-100 index dived but later bears and bulls wrestled throughout the day for control of the market with the former maintaining a strong hold.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 226.29 points, or 0.49%, to settle at 45,676.94 points.

Arif Habib Limited, in its report, stated that the market dropped by 358 points during the day on the back of redemption of mutual funds, which prompted selling in banks, exploration and production, power, cement, oil and gas marketing companies.

“Investors preferred to switch to food and chemical sectors for being safe-haven areas,” it said.

Exploration and production sector stocks performed contrary to the trend in international crude oil prices, which went up overnight. The textile sector also faced selling pressure, partly due to yet another postponement of the most awaited textile policy announcement.

Sectors contributing to the performance included exploration and production (-62 points), fertiliser (-47 points), banks (-45 points), cement (-30 points) and technology (-30 points).

Individually, stocks that contributed positively to the index included HBL (+34 points), Unity Foods (+22 points), Mari Petroleum (+9 points), Pakistan Tobacco Company (+7 points) and Attock Petroleum (+6 points).

Stocks that contributed negatively were Oil and Gas Development Company (-34 points), Hubco (-32 points), Engro Corporation (-29 points), MCB (-24 points) and Pakistan Petroleum (-22 points).

JS Global analyst Danish Ladhani said that the KSE-100 index closed in the negative zone at 45,677 (down 226 points), after touching intraday low of -358 points.

Total traded volumes stood at 477 million shares with sideboard stocks being the main contributors. Silkbank (+7.5%), Unity Foods (+5.6%), Hum Network (+7.3%), Power Cement (+2.6%), TRG Pakistan (-1.3%) and Lotte Chemical (+4.5%) were the volume leaders.

“The market remained jittery throughout the session. Profit-taking was witnessed from investors,” he said.

Pakistan Oilfields (-1.3%), Pakistan Petroleum (-1.6%) and Oil and Gas Development Company (-2.1%) closed in the negative zone.

Mixed sentiment was seen in the cement sector where Lucky Cement (-0.8%) and Kohat Cement (-1.9%) remained in the red, whereas Pioneer Cement (+0.4%) and Attock Cement (+0.5%) were in the green.

“It is recommended to investors to see any downside as an opportunity to buy stocks,” the analyst said.

Overall, trading volumes declined to 476.6 million shares compared with Tuesday’s tally of 491.8 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs19.1 billion.

Shares of 413 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 150 stocks closed higher, 246 declined and 17 remained unchanged.

Silkbank was the volume leader with 42.7 million shares, gaining Rs0.09 to close at Rs1.29. It was followed by Unity Foods with 41.1 million shares, gaining Rs1.8 to close at Rs34.18 and Hum Network with 38.6 million shares, gaining Rs0.51 to close at Rs7.54.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs23.4 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.