After two positive sessions, carrying on the momentum from the previous week, the market lost steam midway, ending slightly higher at 39,306 points level, up by 0.7 percent week-on-week (WoW). A week of polar opposites, where bullish sentiment from approvals on FDI ventures, offshore drilling, coupled with FM Umar’s statements made to placate industrialists propelled the index higher, only to pair-back gains mid-week, due to lack of triggers and concerning macro data points, reflected in the KSE-100 index’s closing, said an equity analyst at AKD Research. He said in a week where developments on negotiations with the IMF were widely expected, the absence of concrete measures or any firm direction may deteriorate sentiments further. The GoP’s much-awaited mini-budget (second since coming to power), and PM Khan’s visit to Qatar (to secure concessions along the lines of those secured from UAE and Saudi Arabia) could push sentiment either way, making for a crucial week ahead. News-flows regarding the upcoming reform package kept investors sideways during the past week. Volumes remained lower than the previous week for a large part, averaging 118 million shares per day, while average daily traded value depicted a similar trend, ending down 14 percent WoW, said an equity analyst Ahmed Lakhani. During the week, outperforming sectors included Fertilizer (+2.1% WoW), E&Ps (+1.3% WoW), and Automobile Assemblers (+1.6% WoW). Anticipation of new discoveries by Exxon Mobil in Indus Block resulted in PPL (+3.6% WoW) and OGDC (+1.9% WoW) closing the week in positive territory, given their stake in the joint venture. Meanwhile, HCAR (+22% WoW) and PSMC (6.4% WoW) of the auto sector were two of the best market performers during the week, despite lackluster volumetric growth (decline in case of HCAR) in monthly car sales, which was likely due to rumors of new measures to be taken in the upcoming reform package to restrict the import of used cars. Pharmaceuticals (+1.5% WoW) were among the stand-out sectors, buoyed by news of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) allowing a price-increase (up to 15%) to the sector, where GLAXO (up 8.6% WoW) and ABOT (+5.3% WoW) were the major winners in the sector. Published in Daily Times, January 20th 2019.