Stock trading continues as usual despite protests across the country

October 31, 2018

A Pakistani stockbroker walks past an index board showing share prices during a trading session at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi on February 6, 2018. Photo: AFP

Following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Wednesday morning that acquitted Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case and subsequent protests across the country, the stock market remained unmoved and trading was normal.

After losing 350 points in the opening hour, the KSE-100 Index, a gauge to measure market performance, bounced back and traded around 41,600 points, the same level where it closed in the previous session.

A majority of market analysts SAMAA Digital spoke to said it was a ‘non-event’ for the market.

In the last two sessions, trading was normal and investors are expecting another rally later this week or by Monday if Prime Minister Imran Khan is able to get a good support package from Beijing, said one analyst. The PM is scheduled to fly to China on November 1.

Related: Prime Minister Imran Khan to travel to China on November 1

The initial dip came even before the SC’s judgment was out. This was because of profit taking by some investors who sold their shares following a strong rally in the last few sessions.

The KSE-100 hit a two-and-a-half year low of 36,600 points on October 16. It has gained 5,000 points since then, triggered by news of a bailout package from Saudi Arabia.

The friendly country has pledged $3 billion in deposits as balance of payment support and another $9 billion ($3 billion per year for three years) in oil credit to Pakistan. The news alone helped the market book its highest gain in the last three-and-a-half years.

Related: Dollar falls to two-week low after Saudis pledge $6b support

Analysts believe the ongoing protests have no direct connection with the market because they are unlikely to make any changes to the political or economic situation. Companies’ performances are not linked to these protests either, except in the case of vandalism which could affect stocks of some insurance companies.

What’s happening is unfortunate but not unexpected, said one analyst. One has to see how far this will go, he said. Unless something extraordinary happens, which could threaten the government, the market is likely to function as usual, he added.