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SBP’s unexpected interest rate hike takes toll on PSX, plunges over 850 points

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  • “Market wasn’t expecting rate hike, that’s why it reacted,” analyst says.
  • Benchmark KSE-100 index fell below 42,000-barrier during intra-day.
  • Analyst says interest rates at 16% is negative for corporate profitability.

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan‘s unexpected increase in the interest rate shook investors’ confidence on the first day of the week, as the stock market took a hit with the benchmark KSE-100 index losing more than 850 points on Monday. 

The Pakistan Stock Exchange’s (PSX) benchmark KSE-100 index had opened at 42,936.73, however, after losing 865.39 points, or -2.02% the index closed the session at 42,071.34 points.

Investors were concerned over the challenges faced by the beleaguered economy as cash-strapped Pakistan awaits funds from bilateral and multilateral partners. 

The index remained on a downward trajectory, falling below the psychological barrier of 42,000 touching an intra-day low of 41,963.94 points.

In the morning, trading activity began on a negative note and the market fell steadily till midday when it touched its lowest mark for the day. Later, slight buying helped the bourse recoup some losses.

Benchmark KSE-100 index intra-day trading curve. — PSX data portal
Benchmark KSE-100 index intra-day trading curve. — PSX data portal

Analyst Samiullah Tariq laid blame on SBP’s decision to increase the interest rate as a key factor for the drop in the KSE-100 index. 

“[The] market wasn’t expecting a rate hike. That’s why it was reacting,” the head of research at Pakistan-Kuwait Investment Company told Geo.tv

Capital market expert Saad Ali also blamed the “surprise interest rate hike” for the drop, adding that investors may be expecting more hikes given the inflation outlook

“Interest rates at 16% or higher is significantly negative for growth and corporate profitability,” Ali told Geo.tv

At the time the decision was announced by SBP, the markets had closed, which is why the KSE-100 index today went in the red at the opening.

Shares of 350 companies were traded during the session. At the close of trading, 47 scrips closed in the green, 294 in the red, and nine remained unchanged.

Overall trading volumes declined to 244.35 million shares compared with Friday’s tally of 177.29 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs6.97 billion.

K-Electric was the volume leader with 29.01 million shares traded, losing Rs0.17 to close at Rs2.60. It was followed by WorldCall Telecom with 22.51 million shares traded, gaining Rs0.06 to close at Rs1.36 and Dewan Farooqui Motors with 13.78 million shares gaining Rs0.06 to close at Rs11.87. 

SBP hikes interest rate to 16% to curtail inflation

On Friday, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Friday raised the key policy rate by 100 basis points to 16% — the highest since 1999.

The central bank, in a statement, issued after the meeting said that the decision reflects the MPC’s view that inflationary pressures have proven to be stronger and more persistent than expected.

“This decision is aimed at ensuring that elevated inflation does not become entrenched and that risks to financial stability are contained, thus paving the way for higher growth on a more sustainable basis,” the MPC said.

The SBP noted that amid the ongoing economic slowdown, inflation is increasingly being driven by persistent global and domestic supply shocks that are raising costs. 

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Over 600 points are added by PSX in intraday trading.

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Tuesday’s lunchtime trading on the Pakistan Stock Exchange saw favorable activity.

During intraday trading, the benchmark KSE-100 Index increased by 672.08 points, or 1.11%, and was trading at 61131.82 levels.

The KSE-30 Index was trading at 20,558.31 after adding 211.46 points, or 1.04%.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) had another round of discussions for the establishment of a central government the day before the rally in the local stock exchange.

In the meanwhile, Fitch Ratings has issued a warning, stating that the likelihood of default would rise in the event of a drawn-out discussion or the inability to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, which reported net foreign reserves of $8 billion as of February 9, 2024, up from a low of $2.9 billion on February 3, 2023, Pakistan’s external situation has improved recently.

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The smartphone app “Tajir Dost” to tax Pakistani businesses is anticipated to launch on February 22.

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The sources stated that the caretaker administration aims to include 3.5 million shops in the tax net by use of the “Tajir Dost” app.

They said that Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the acting prime minister, has instructed the relevant authorities to conclude their engagement with the retailing bodies within a few days.

The introduction of the “Tajir Dost” smartphone app to impose taxes on several merchants was authorized earlier this month by the acting federal administration.

The smartphone application, created by Pakistan Revenue Authority Limited (PRAL), a division of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), is intended to serve as a registration tool for shops and dealers throughout the nation.

The app’s database will be updated with the traders’ information who have already registered with the FBR.

Previously, in December 2023, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) made history by collecting Rs1.021 trillion. After deducting refunds of Rs 38 billion that were given out that month, the FBR’s net collection increased to Rs 984 billion.

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SBP confirms the choice to use new currency notes was not influenced by the IMF.

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In response to recent rumours, Saleem Ullah, the deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), said on Thursday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had no influence over the decision to release new currency notes.

Saleem Ullah underlined in an interview that printing new notes is a regular procedure carried out every 15 to 20 years to maintain the currency’s integrity.

He stressed that, in contrast to rumours, the deficit is expected to decline in the next fiscal year, in line with the goals of the new monetary policy.

“Every 15 to 20 years, new notes are printed,” he clarified. The new currency’s goal is to keep the note’s integrity intact.”

The SBP assured the public earlier this week that the current banknote series will continue to be in circulation despite the introduction of new currency notes, which it intended to implement over the course of the next two years.

Regarding the latest series of currency notes, the deputy governor clarified that they were launched in 2005 and were in circulation for three years.

He admitted that the procedure was time-consuming and estimated that because of the careful preparation required, it would take around two years to issue the first note.

In addition, he guaranteed that the new banknotes will have improved security measures because they would be made using contemporary technology. He gave information regarding the SBP’s effort to get public feedback on the new currency notes’ design, highlighting the fact that recommendations were being actively sought from the populace.

“There are three prizes for each denomination, and there are a total of seven denominations, hence 21 prizes,” he disclosed, highlighting the process’ openness. First place is worth Rs 1 million, second place is worth Rs 500,000, and third place is worth Rs 300,000.

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