Trade, industry incur losses of Rs 4b as Karachi mourns slain MQM leader

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With the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) cutting the trading session at the country’s largest bourse short to half-day, traders and the industry claim to have incurred a loss of $ 3-4 billion on Friday.
The day saw the financial capital of the country shut as paranoid Karachi citizens preferred to remain indoors to avoid any untoward situation on the second day of the three-day mourning announced by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on the cold-blooded murder of its provincial lawmaker, Syed Manzar Imam, on Thursday.
With civic and commercial activities completely static, the day saw the front regulators at KSE suspending all the markets at 12:30pm. “The brokers of the Exchange are hereby informed that due to the prevailing situation in the city, the Exchange has decided to suspend all markets at 12:30pm,” said a KSE notice issued on Friday.
The window for trade rectification and NDM market however remained available up to 1:30pm.
KSE general manager operations Abbas Mirza, in the notice said the trading of Friday shall be merged with trading of Monday and shall be settled on Wednesday.
The short session said the KSE 100-share index gaining 310.68 points was to close at 16,601.77 points against Thursday’s 16,291.09 points.
The trading volumes surged to 181 million from 144 million of the previous session.
”The investor sentiments turned bullish at KSE after long march ended on a positive note amid political consensus on electoral reforms,” said Ahsan Mehanti, an analyst and director at Arif Habib Securities.
He said strong earnings outlook, higher global commodities and current account surplus of $250 million reported for the first 6 months of fiscal year played a catalyst’s role in the bullish close in stocks across the board at a short session at KSE amid hopes for positive Pak-IMF talks on fresh loans.
In the afternoon, All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) Chairman Atiq Mir, announced to have attended the funeral of the slain MQM leader, Manzar Imam, where he said the traders took the MQM leadership into confidence for opening the markets in the second half.
“A delegation of AKTI attended the funeral of the MQM leader. The markets would immediately be opened,” said the trade leader.
Mir, however, told Pakistan Today that only retail markets and not the wholesale ones would be opened on Friday. “The wholesale markets may not be opened today,” he said.
The AKTI chief said a delegation of traders participated in Imam’s funeral where they took the grieved leaders of the MQM into confidence and decided to open the markets.
However, despite the AKTI announcement most of the retailers in the city’s commercial centres kept their shutters down with only a few doing business, some with half-closed shutters.
The fuel stations, however, were seen open in the second half after the traders’ body gave them a green signal.
Asked about the estimated losses to traders, Mir said it was around Rs 2 billion a day. “The retailers would also have incurred losses for the half day closure,” he said. In his estimates for losses, Mir said industries were not included.
The AKTI chairman replied in affirmative when asked if all the retail and wholesales markets would open from Saturday (today) in the city.
When contacted, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Haroon Agar said the losses traders and industry faced on the day ranged between Rs 3 and Rs 4 billion.
When asked if the figure was inclusive of the losses faced by the retail and wholesale markets, the KCCI chief said, “All together”.
Disappointed with the government’s “hollow” assurances on improvement of law and order in the city, the traders in this volatile city have been calling for the deployment of army to maintain peace.
AKTI chief Mir, a long time proponent of army’s deployment in Karachi, still believes the city should be given under the control of the armed forces. “Of course,” was his response when asked if he still deemed the military as a saviour of peace and order in the financial hub of the country.