KARACHI: A day after losing 480 points, the KSE-100 index gained 175 points in range-bound trading on Friday, driven by exploration and production and financial stocks.

A surge in the State Bank of Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves and the rupee’s stability played the role of a catalyst in the bourse’s strength.

Fertiliser stocks rose following a nationwide increase in urea prices whereas cement and pharmaceutical sectors took a hit with majority of stocks in the red.

In the morning, the market kicked off on a negative note and fell over 200 points in initial trading. However, heavy buying by investors in selective stocks pushed the benchmark index above 42,500 points. There were occasional dips that made some stocks attractive for investors.

At close, the benchmark KSE 100-share Index recorded an increase of 174.73 points or 0.41% to settle at 42,505.05

JS Global analyst Danish Ladhani said the stock market closed last day of the week higher after range-bound trading as the index hit an intra-day low and high of -233 points and +223 points respectively.

“The market kicked off negative but later traded sideways to close 175 points positive,” said Ladhani. “On the economic front, forex reserves increased $1.35 billion on official inflows. Moreover, Pakistan and Iran may start parleys on the IP gas pipeline project next month.”

Key sectors including exploration and production and financial drove the market whereas the cement sector showed some respite at the bottom.

Lucky Cement (-0.86%), DG Khan Cement (-0.45%) and Fauji Cement (-0.28%) were in the red. On the flip side, MCB Bank (+1.40%), United Bank (+0.04%) and Bank AL Habib (+0.10%) remained in the positive zone.

Major heavyweights namely Oil and Gas Development Company (+0.66%), Engro (+2.17%), MCB Bank (+1.40%), United Bank (+0.04%) and Fauji Fertilizer Company (+2.93%) cumulatively contributed +125 points.

Traded volumes dipped 29% to 203 million shares while the traded value fell to $75 million.

Top volume stocks were Engro Polymer and Chemicals (-0.96%), Unity Foods (+4.54%), TRG Pakistan (+1.50%), Pak Elektron (-0.58%) and Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (-4.44%).

Engro Foods (+2.57%), was in the green zone as it announced 1H2018 earnings per share of Rs0.67 with no dividend.

“Moving forward, we expect the market to trade sideways until any further breakthrough on the political front. We expect flows from local and foreign institutions to drive the market and recommend investors to accumulate value stocks at dips.”

Overall, trading volumes decreased to 203 million shares compared with Thursday’s tally of 284.5 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs9.4 billion.

Shares of 375 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 198 stocks closed higher, 158 declined while 19 remained unchanged.

Engro Polymer was the volume leader with 25 million shares, losing Rs0.34 to close at Rs35.20. It was followed by DS Industries with 17.9 million shares, losing Rs1 to close at Rs4.51 and Unity Foods with 13.6 million shares, gaining Rs1.47 to close at Rs33.83.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs446.2 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.