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Stocks edge down amid FATF speculations; gold price fall as dollar firms
A sign of the Pakistan Stock Exchange is seen on its building in Karachi, Pakistan January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File Photo

Stocks edge down amid FATF speculations; gold price fall as dollar firms

KARACHI: Negative sentiments have been prevailing among investors as reflected by the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) over uncertain speculations as the country’s delegation meets Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Beijing for talks about measures taken to curb money laundering and terror financing.

The benchmark KSE 100-share Index further dropped 289.47 points or 0.68pc and hit 42,337 points on Wednesday as of 01.34pm. The Index opened at 42,501.55 points today. Yesterday, the Index closed at 42,626.48.

In the previous week, the market closed at 43,167.77 points, while observing fluctuations in the whole week, and closed in a little bit of negative territory amid political uncertainty that marred the overall trading environment while kept investors’ sentiment subdued.

Earlier, the signing of a phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China to ease the ongoing trade war restored a bit of confidence among the investors. Domestic politics and rising reservations against the ruling party by its allies were also noticed by the investors.

Traders had opined that the market was still in search of a direction, which could be provided by the State Bank monetary policy and the herald of corporate results reporting season next week.

Traders were of the view that after a major run-up since August last year, the index was consolidating at the current levels before moving forward. “Early trade has been witnessing much of the volatility and the index has been fluctuating from negatives to positives and vice-versa.”

The emerging disapproval from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) allies over its policies contributed to the slow pace as the disagreements between the PTI government and its allies are being taken as a “sign of a brewing political crisis.”

Two weeks ago, the market witnessed massive overall spike in the stocks as local and foreign investors rampaged across the market to quickly hit upper circuits after the war clouds hanging over the region due to US-Iran hostilities dissipated which provided the investors the much-needed comfort to move funds from gold and money market back to risky assets that may provide higher returns.

Earlier, investors’ optimism continued as they saw the market back in the green after two earlier dismal years of negative returns.

From Aug 16, 2019 when the benchmark index had hit the pit at 28,765 points, the market has witnessed a spectacular rally that has carried it up by more than 50pc in fewer than five months.

Improvement on the external front together with stability in the Pakistani Rupee was expected to reassure foreign investors.

Meanwhile, inflationary readings are set to touch peak in January 2020 (this month) with an imminent interest rate cut to follow, domestic investors remain jubilant as well, he said.

Gold slips as dollar gains

Gold prices slipped on Wednesday as the dollar firmed and investors played down any immediate impact on the global economy from the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China.

Spot gold fell 0.4% to $1,551.13 per ounce by 0424 GMT. On Tuesday, prices declined as much as 1% to their lowest since Jan. 15 at $1,545.96.

Asian stock markets bounced as China’s response to the virus outbreak tempered fears of a global pandemic, although worries about a hit to domestic demand and tourism remained.

“This is just a continuation of the consolidation (in gold) that we have been seeing the last couple of weeks,” said UBS strategist Joni Teves.

“Key factors like the dollar and rates (will) start to become the focus again.”

Weighing on gold, the dollar firmed against a basket of currencies, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

“Gold is struggling to gain momentum as positive equity market sentiment builds,” Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, said in a note.

“Hedge funds remain on the sidelines, and sovereign accounts that were active at the start of the year seem to be absent … physical demand into the Chinese Lunar New Year is weak, and India appears to have ample inventories.” Among other precious metals, palladium advanced 0.6% to $2,415.25 an ounce.

Silver fell 0.2% to $17.73 per ounce, while platinum edged lower by 0.2% to $997.30.