Pakistan shares drop as uncertainty returns

KARACHI - Pakistani stocks fell over 3 percent on Wednesday as investors sold blue chips like OGDC amid uncertainty whether the coalition government's parties can work together to tackle pressing economic issues.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 20 Aug 2008, 2:04 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:55 AM

The benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange index fell as much as 3.5 percent in early trade. By 0530 GMT, the index had slightly pared losses and was down 2.8 percent.

Investors said they were losing hope President Pervez Musharraf's resignaton on Monday would ease Pakistan's political tension because the fractious coalition government did not see eye to eye on political issues.

‘Once the Musharraf (resignation) happened, everybody thought the coalition was going to work like a charm, but obviously that is not happening,’ said Asad Iqbal, the managing director at Ismail Iqbal Securities Ltd.

Coalition leaders met for several hours on Tuesday but got bogged down by squabbles over the restoration of the judges ousted by Musharraf last year.

Iqbal said investors were also worried the party led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif may join the opposition.

Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is the coalition's second-largest member, pulled some his party's ministers out of the cabinet in May after the coalition failed to reach an agreement on reinstatement of the judges.

Sharif said in May his party would continue to support the coalition and not join the opposition for the time being.

‘Markets will be volatile until you know which way the political situation is going,’ Iqbal said.

Expectations Musharraf's resignation will ease political turbulence pushed Pakistan shares up nearly 13 percent as of Tuesday's close, after the coalition government said on August 7 it would begin impeachment proceedings against Musharraf.

But the post-Musharraf euphoria is evaporating and investors now want the coalition government to prove its members can cooperate, and show they have the will to revive Pakistan's sickly economy.

Pakistan is fighting widening trade and fiscal deficits, falling reserves depleted by high oil prices, and soaring inflation.

Blue chips led losses on Wednesday. Oil and Gas Development Co Ltd, Pakistan's biggest firm by stock market value, fell 3.2 percent. OGDC is set to announce its full-year earnings later on Wednesday.

Seven analysts forecast OGDC to post a full-year net profit of 50.1 billion rupees ($676.1 million), Reuters' estimates showed.

MCB Bank, the country's largest bank by market capitalisation, fell 4 percent, and state-run Pakistan Petroleum Ltd dropped 3.1 percent.

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