Pakistan Stocks Fall Most Globally as Sharif to Appear for Probe

  • Benchmark KSE100 Index declines 3.8 percent in Karachi trading
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to appear before team on June 15

Karachi Stock Exchange

Pakistan’s key stock index declined the most globally on Monday as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was called to appear before a team investigating corruption allegations against his family.

The nation’s benchmark KSE100 Index declined 3.8 percent at the close in Karachi, the most among 96 primary indexes tracked by Bloomberg. Habib Bank Ltd. was the leading decliner down 3.2 percent followed by Engro Corp. and Oil and Gas Development Co. falling by daily 5 percent price movement limit. It was the index’s biggest decline in almost two years.

“Political fears have taken center stage,” said Gohar Rasool, head of international sales at Intermarket Securities Ltd. “The market has apparently lost its mojo with low volumes due to the Ramadan effect and lack of triggers,” he said, referring to the Muslim holy fasting month where trading hours are cut back.

The premier and his family have been hounded in the past year by political opponents, led by opposition leader and former cricket star Imran Khan, after a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed Sharif’s three children either owned or have signing rights to authorize transactions of four offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands. Those holdings were alleged to have been used to make property purchases in London.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court in April ordered a probe into the criminal allegations leveled against the family. Sharif is scheduled to appear on June 15 before an investigative team, which has already questioned his sons, according to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb. 

The political turmoil is the latest hit to the nation’s stock market, which was upgraded to emerging markets status by MSCI Inc. this month. Instead of flocking to Pakistani equities, foreign investors have continued dumping stocks worth $372 million this year, more than the entire amount of $334 million offloaded last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

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