Here’s how Pakistani capital markets have fared one year since the lockdown

By Mutaher Khan

A year ago, no one seemed to have taken the coronavirus to the heart more than the capital markets. There was bloodbath all around, including at PSX as the KSE-100 plunged to 27,228 points on March 25, compared to 37,984 on February 28 – a day after the first case was detected in Pakistan.

However, against all expectations and much to the dismay of most forecasts, markets rebounded spectacularly. As of March 25, 2021, the KSE-100 stood at 45,726 points, 68% higher compared to the same day the previous year.

The recovery was broad-based with almost all sectors chipping in, but the most phenomenal performance coming from technology and communication – in line with the global trend – which surged by a whopping 331% during the period under review, followed by glass and ceramics at 247%. Refinery also saw its fortunes change over the period registering gains of 242% while engineering posted an increase of 205%.

Cement and Paper & Board also more than doubled their index values, which rose by 149% and 111%, respectively. The two other heavyweights – Commercial Banks and Oil & Gas Exploration – were up 32% and 40%. On the flip side, five sectors – Vanaspati & Allied Industries, Woollen, Exchange Traded Funds, Tobacco, and Real Estate Investment Trust – have declined over the period under review though their combined weightage in the All-Share is negligible.

At the scrip level, TRG recorded an eye-popping increase of 1,187% as it closed at Rs165.68 on March 25, 2021, compared to Rs12.87 a year ago. Ravi Textile closely followed with a share price growth of 988% to Rs16.32 from just Rs1.5. As many as five companies posted stock gains of over 600% or more, 13 saw jumps in prices in the 300-600% range and 19 between 200% and 299%.

The five biggest stocks by weightage in the KSE-100 witnessed the following changes in prices: Lucky Cement surged by 165% to Rs844, HBL by 25% to Rs123.43, Engro Corporation 19% to Rs283.77, Hub Power 48% to Rs84.91 and TRG by 1,187%.

Among Stock-based Mutual Funds, Golden Arrow was the best performer with its Net Asset Value soaring by 133% during the 365-day period. AKD Opportunity was a close second with gains 131% while Faysal Stock rose 114%. On the other hand, NBP Financial Sector’s 31% were the lowest. Within the Shariah-compliant segment, AKD Islamic grew the most at 81.34%, followed by Atlas Islamic at 80.94% and ABL Islamic 79.44%.

During the period, foreign corporates exited the Pakistani market in droves with their net outflow coming at $443 million, followed by banks/development finance institutions unloading equities worth $79.15m and broker proprietary trading at $33.89m. On the flip side, local individuals raked in stocks valued at $289.43m, companies $135.15m and insurance $84.28m.