Pakistani Stock Market is the World's Best Performing Market in 2024

Pakistan's KSE-100 shares index topped 80,000 points on Wednesday as stocks climbed more than 600 points, making it the world's best performing stock market. The benchmark KSE-100 index has posted an annual return of 89% during FY24 (July 2023-June 2024) in PKR terms while in US dollar terms, the return was 94%, as the Pakistani rupee appreciated against the US dollar, according to Pakistani media reports.  This outstanding market performance is generally being seen as a consequence of a series of unpopular decisions  by the military-backed government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to carry out economic reforms to win the IMF support. 

Pakistani Stock Market Outperforms Asian Peers. Source: Bloomberg

Specifically, some analysts attribute the record increase in Pakistani share prices to multiple factors, ranging from the government's investor-friendly budget to the expectation of closing a longer term IMF deal. Others believe the relatively low price-earnings (P/E) multiples of Pakistani stocks make them attractive to investors. 

Awais Ashraf, director of research at AKD securities, attributed the stocks upward momentum to “expected entry into the larger IMF program and expected monetary easing boosting investor confidence in equities”, according to Dawn newspaper

“The majority increase in return is attributed to re-rating of Price to Earning (PE) from 2.2-2.4x in June 30, 2023 to 3.94x in Jun 28, 2024,” said a Pakistani investment firm Topline Securities in its report. It attributed the PE multiple re-rating to “improving economic indicators, i.e. increase in exports and remittances by 11% and 9%, respectively in 11MFY24, decline in inflation from peak of 38.0% in May-23 to 11.8% in May 2024.”

Foreign portfolio investors are coming back to Pakistan’s debt and equity markets after a prolonged absence, marking a significant shift in market sentiment, according to a report in The Express Tribune newspaper. The short-term external investment has surged by a remarkable 84%, catapulting to a 30-month high, now standing at Rs 501.30 billion (US$ 1.8 billion) .

There is a distinct difference in how the new budget, compliant with the IMF requirements, has been received by the ordinary public compared to the investor class. Higher taxes on consumption in the new budget have angered most consumers but the prospects of  lower fiscal deficits and significant macro-economic improvements are generally being welcomed by investors. The government, backed by the Pakistani military, sees the need to improve the macro-economic indicators as essential to improving the long-term health of the national economy

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Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan clinches IMF bailout deal, to raise tax on farm income | Reuters

The new agreement introduced increased tax on agricultural incomes, underscoring the need to increase government revenue and reduce recurrent deficit to win the lender's approval.
The IMF said it had got assurances from Pakistani authorities - provincial and federal - that they would bring taxation on agricultural incomes on par with corporate and other tax rates.
Agricultural income has historically been taxed much lower than other sectors, despite contributing 23% to the GDP, employing 35% of the labour force, and bringing in an annual income of around 9 trillion Pakistani rupees ($32.37 billion).
Under the IMF deal, the highest effective tax rate can rise to as much as 45% from the current 15%. It will be implemented from 2025, a move that was termed "unprecedented" by brokerage and investment banking firm JS Global.
"These changes could contribute to inflation, particularly in food prices, affecting consumers nationwide," said Ghasharib Shaokat, head of product at Pakistan Agriculture Research, adding that larger farmers will be affected more.
Inflation averaged close to 30% in FY23 and 23.4% in FY24, which ended on June 30.
Policymakers have long wanted to do this, but were unable because Pakistani governments do not want to risk their popularity among the rural voter base, said Vaqar Ahmed of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, a think tank.
"Most of the good reforms for fiscal consolidation, unfortunately, have not come as a result of our own political will and have come as a result of external push," he said.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's government is also based on a weak coalition and faces political pressure of a popular jailed opposition leader, former premier Imran Khan.
But Sharif says his government is committed to tough but unavoidable reforms.
Pakistan has been struggling with boom-and-bust cycles for decades, leading to 22 IMF bailouts since 1958. Currently the IMF is fifth-largest debtor, owing $6.28 billion as of July 11, according to the lender's data, opens new tab.
The latest economic crisis has been the most prolonged and has seen the highest ever levels of inflation, pushing the country to the brink of a sovereign default last summer before an IMF bailout.
The conditions of the programme have become tougher. The latest bailout is aimed at cementing stability and inclusive growth in the crisis-plagued South Asian country, the IMF said.
A source close to negotiations with the IMF told Reuters that the agriculture income tax was agreed weeks ago, but was deliberately not highlighted by the government because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The IMF has said the SLA agreement is subject to approval by its executive board and the confirmation of necessary financing assurances from Pakistan's development and bilateral partners.
This would include rollovers or disbursements on loans from Pakistan's long-time allies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China.
($1 = 278.0000 Pakistani rupees)
Riaz Haq said…
‘Pakistan’s coalition govt to last just 18 months’ amid political turmoil: Fitch report

American credit rating agency Fitch shared a worrisome report about Pakistan’s current political instability that could hinder economic recovery.

In its latest Country Risk Report, Fitch Business Monitor International highlighted the critical condition of Pakistan’s economic recovery, pointing out that political turmoil will affect economic activities.

The report pointed out unstable political situation, with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) founding chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan expected to remain behind bars despite legal victories.

It said the PML-N led coalition government will remain in power for next 18 months, with no immediate plans for new elections. Fitch also mentioned a potential scenario where a technocratic administration could take over if the government changes.

This implies that Pakistan will continue to implement IMF-mandated reforms, enabling the economy to grow by 3.2% in 2024/25. The report projects that the policy rate could reach 16 percent this fiscal year and 14 percent next year, while the exchange rate has stabilized beyond expectations.

USD is expected to reach Rs 290 by the end of this year and Rs 310 next year, the report said. Achieving budget targets under the IMF program is considered challenging, although the fiscal deficit is expected to decrease from 7.4 percent to 6.7 percent, it added.

Fitch also warned that another flood or natural disaster could significantly threaten the already fragile economy.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s current account posts deficit of $681mn in FY24 - Markets - Business Recorder

Pakistan’s current account posted a deficit of $681 million in FY2023-2024, massively lower by 79% than the deficit of $3.275 billion in the previous fiscal year, revealed data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Friday.

The CAD amounts to 0.2% of GDP, which is the lowest in the last 13 years, said brokerage house Arif Habib Limited (AHL).

“This significant decline was driven by a 6% reduction in the trade deficit and an 11% increase in remittances,” it added.

In FY24, the country’s total export of goods and services amounted to $38.9 billion. Imports clocked in at $63.3 billion during the period, according to SBP data.


Pakistan's IT exports up by 24% to $3.2bn in FY24 - Profit by Pakistan Today

Pakistan's IT exports surge by 24% to reach US$3.2 billion in FY24. In a significant economic development, Pakistan's Information Technology (IT) exports have soared to US$3.2 billion in the fiscal year 2024, marking a robust 24% year-on-year increase from the previous fiscal's US$2.59 billion.

The latest data, released by the State Bank of Pakistan, underscores the sector’s resilience and growth amidst global economic challenges.

For June 2024 alone, Pakistan recorded IT exports worth $298 million, up by 33% compared to the same period last year. Despite a month-on-month decline of 10%, June’s exports surpassed the twelve-month average of $262 million, highlighting sustained momentum in the sector.


FY24 exports soar 10.54pc to $30.645bn YoY - Business & Finance - Business Recorder

ISLAMABAD: The country’s exports increased by 10.54 percent ($2.921 billion) to $30.645 billion during the fiscal year 2023-24 compared to $27.724 billion in the corresponding period of 2022-23, says the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The monthly trade data released by the Bureau noted that Pakistan’s trade deficit narrowed down by 12.32 per cent in the fiscal year 2023-24 as it stood at $24.089 billion compared to $27.474 billion during the fiscal year 2022-23.

Imports declined by 0.84 per cent to $54.734 billion during the fiscal year 2023-24 as compared with $55.198 billion in the fiscal year 2022-23.

The data further noted that the trade deficit widened by 30.39 per cent on a year-on-year basis and stood at $2.390 billion in June 2024 compared to $1.833 billion during the same month of 2023.

The imports increased by 17.43 per cent on a YoY basis and remained $4.919 billion in June 2024 compared to $4.189 billion in June 2023. The exports increased by 7.34 per cent on a YoY basis and remained $2.529 billion in June 2024 compared to $2.356 billion in June 2023.

On a MoM basis, the trade deficit widened by 15.13 per cent to $2.390 billion in June 2024, as compared to $2.076 billion in May 2024. Exports recorded a 10.92 per cent negative growth to $2.529 billion in June 2024 when compared with $2.839 billion in May 2024.


Remittances in FY24 - BR Research - Business Recorder

Remittances to Pakistan grew by 10.7 percent year-on-year in FY24 to $30.3 billion. The annual tally is the second highest in the country’s history at $30.3 billion in FY24 after $31.2 billion in FY22. Remittances during June 24, the last month of the fiscal year stood at $3.16 billion, up by 44 percent on a year-on-year basis, but down by 3 percent on a month-on-month basis.

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