Investors loaded up on blue chip counters in Pakistan’s KSE100 Index on Monday ahead of an expected announcement from global benchmark provider MSCI that it would upgrade the country to emerging market status.
The index jumped 1.55% to a record high of 52,555.07 in morning trading, bound for an eighth straight advance. More than 670 million shares changed hands during the rally last week, the most since the week ending February 17.
MSCI was scheduled to announce updates to its benchmarks during a semi-annual review also on Monday. It said last year that coinciding with this review Pakistan would be upgraded from a frontier market to an emerging one, raising it from the bottom rung to the middle one on a three-tiered classification system.
Institutional investors tracking the widely watched MSCI Emerging Market Index will need to add positions in the newly included Pakistani stocks once the move takes effect. The country was previously classified as an emerging market but was downgraded in 2008 because of a lack of trading activity.
Last September, data-provider Morningstar upgraded Pakistan to emerging market status, writing that: “A slew of market reforms implemented in Pakistan during the past two years has been promising for global investors.
“These improvements along with Morningstar Indexes’ positive outlook on the foreign investment climate in Pakistan have culminated into the decision to classify Pakistan as an emerging market.”
Pakistan drew a positive response from investors when it merged the Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad stock exchanges into the newly formed Pakistan Stock Exchange in January last year. The consolidation was made to improve liquidity and ease of trading.
The country’s benchmark KSE100 Index was the world’s fifth best performing market last year, surging 46.4%. It is middle of-the-pack for the year so far, however, ranking 53rd out of 96 markets measured by Bloomberg data.