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Pakistani stocks up as banks post gains

KARACHI: Pakistani stocks ended higher on Wednesday, led by sharp gains in banking shares amid expectations of healthy financial results, and dealers predicted the market would remain steady in coming days.

Pakistani stocks up as banks post gainsThe Karachi Stock Exchange’s benchmark 100-share index ended 0.32 per cent, or 37.97 points, higher at 11,886.02. Volume was 99.78 million shares compared with 110 million shares traded on Tuesday.

“Most of the leading banks have been performing well in recent weeks and we expect investor interest in the sector to continue as banks are expected to report healthy full-year results next month,” said Ashraf Zakaria, a dealer at brokers Ali Hussain Rajabali and Co.

On Wednesday, Bank Alfalah, United Bank Ltd and Allied Bank all closed at their upper locks, or 5 per cent higher. Other banks also posted gains.

Dealers said an announcement by the Abu Dhabi Group that it has agreed to sell a 20 per cent stake in UBL to Bestway (Holding) Ltd at an undisclosed price also fuelled interest in the lender.

Zakaria said investor interest was also witnessed in oil stocks, in anticipation of an expected rise in retail fuel prices later this week.

In the currency market, the rupee ended at 85.81/88 to the dollar, slightly lower than Tuesday’s close of 85.79/84.

“There were some dollar outflows from the market today but at the same time inflows are also pretty decent as exporters are also selling dollars in the market, preventing a sharp fall in the rupee’s value,” said a local bank dealer.

In the money market, overnight rates ended at 12.75 per cent, little changed from the previous day’s close of 12.85 per cent, dealers said.

Dealers said the market was also awaiting the result of a fortnightly auction of 3-,6- and 12-month treasury bills, for which the State Bank of Pakistan has set a target of 15 billion rupees.

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