Trading volume at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Wednesday touched a 16-year high as it rose past one billion shares.

PSX volume surged 52% day-on-day to 1.01 billion shares, the fifth highest trading volume and the highest after 16 years. Such a trading volume was last recorded on February 23, 2005.

Throughout the day, the stock market oscillated between positive and negative territories and ended the session nearly flat with a meagre drop of 30 points.

Political tensions and absence of positive triggers undermined investor interest and they resorted to cautious trading.

Earlier, trading kicked off with a spike, but the sombre mood erased the gains and pushed the benchmark KSE-100 index into negative territory within the first hour. Rest of the trading session saw the index swing between red and green zones.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 30.48 points, or 0.07%, to settle at 46,644.29 points.

Arif Habib Limited, in its report, stated that the market achieved another feat as it recorded trading volume of one billion shares in the regular market.

WorldCall Telecom contributed the most with 370 million shares changing hands. Other stocks helped keep the cumulative trading volume above 600 million shares.

“Profit-booking continued unabated, particularly in the exploration and production sector that regressed despite stable international crude oil prices,” it said.

The cement sector performed well on the back of better financial results announced by Cherat Cement, which strengthened investor confidence who voiced hope that similar results would be announced by other companies.

Banking, exploration and production, and engineering (steel) sectors “saw attrition”, the report said.

Sectors contributing to the performance included exploration and production (-92 points), banks (-50 points), technology (-33 points), fertiliser (-20 points) and engineering (-11 points).

Individually, stocks that contributed positively to the index included Lucky Cement (+76 points), Fauji Cement (+29 points), Cherat Cement (+25 points), Pioneer Cement (+25 points) and Kohat Cement (+21 points).

Stocks that contributed negatively were Oil and Gas Development Company (-34 points), Mari Petroleum (-23 points), Systems Limited (-22 points), Pakistan Petroleum (-19 points) and Bank AL Habib (-16 points).

JS Global analyst Danish Ladhani said that the KSE-100 index closed on a flat note not very far from the 47,000-point mark. It ended the session at 46,644, down 30 points.

The index touched intra-day high and low of +171 points and -333 points respectively. Total trading volume crossed one billion shares.

Major contribution to the volume came from WorldCall Telecom (+33%), K-Electric (+2%), Telecard Limited (+17%), Pakistan Refinery (-4%), Fauji Cement (+7%) and Maple Leaf Cement (+2.7%).

MCB in the banking sector reported CY20 consolidated earnings per share of Rs24.82 with cash payout of Rs15 per share.

The market remained upbeat as Cherat Cement (+6%) announced 1HFY21 earnings per share of Rs5.81 with a payout of Re1 per share.

“Hence, observing the past and current trends, we believe that the market will trade sideways with investor interest in refinery and cement stocks,” the analyst said. “We recommend investors to buy on dips.”

Overall, trading volumes skyrocketed to 1.01 billion shares compared with Tuesday’s tally of 664.03 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs27.3 billion.

Shares of 412 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 173 stocks closed higher, 223 declined and 16 remained unchanged.

WorldCall Telecom was the volume leader with 370.4 million shares, gaining Rs0.42 to close at Rs1.68. It was followed by K-Electric with 106.9 million shares, gaining Rs0.09 to close at Rs4.54 and Telecard Limited with 41.7 million shares, gaining Re1 to close at Rs6.89.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs295.6 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.