Pakistan stocks rise; rupee flat; o/n rates down

ISLAMABAD, May 9 (Reuters) - Pakistan stocks rallied on Wednesday with strong performances in the chemicals and food sectors, and an easing of fears that another showdown between the government and the Supreme Court might be imminent, analysts said.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) benchmark 100-share index ended 0.69 percent, or 99.63 points, higher at 14,613.59 points, with a volume of 256.7 million, compared to Tuesday’s close of 14,513.96.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday released its detailed judgment in a case where it had earlier declared Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The prime minister received a symbolic sentence of a few minutes’ detention in the courtroom, but some lawyers have said the conviction should disqualify him from office. Gilani has said he will appeal against the verdict.

“There was concern that political uncertainty will increase with the detailed judgment of the Supreme Court (in the Gilani case), but it was essentially the same as the earlier order so the situation did not change,” said Atif Zafar, a research analyst at the JS Global financial services company.

“It did not dampen the bullish mood in the market today.”

Among the top performers were Engro Corporation, which ended 5 percent higher at 118.93 Pakistan rupees, helped by the strong performances of its food and chemicals divisions.

Engro Foods ended 5 percent higher at 77.31 rupees, while Engro Polymer and Chemicals closed 3.51 percent higher at 12.68 rupees.

Chemicals company Lotte Pakistan closed 9.87 percent higher at 10.02 rupees.

In the currency market, the Pakistani rupee ended almost flat at 90.80/85 to the dollar, compared to Tuesday’s close of 90.82/88.

The rupee has been supported by remittances, which rose 21.45 percent to $9.73 billion in the first nine months of the 2011/12 fiscal year, compared with $8.02 billion in the same period last year.

In March, remittances totalled $1.14 billion.

Overnight rates in the money market ended lower at 9.10 percent, down from Tuesday’s close of 11.25 percent, because of increased liquidity in the market. (Reporting by Qasim Nauman; editing by Stephen Nisbet)