Pakistan stocks close higher, rupee steady, o/n rate fall

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 21, 2013 13:20 hrs

KARACHI, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Pakistani stock market closed higher on Monday after political tensions which dominated the news last week seemed to ease, traders said.

The Karachi Stock Exchange's (KSE) benchmark 100-share index ended 0.24 percent, or 39.04 points, higher at 16,640.81.

Traders were anxious last week after Muslim cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri fired up thousands of protestors in the heart of Islamabad with calls for the government to resign.

The market was also nervous after the Supreme Court issued an order for the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in connection with corruption allegations.

Qadri struck a deal with the government which may give him some say in the electoral process in the run-up to elections this spring, and the head of the state's anti-corruption agency refused to arrest Ashraf. The prime minister's case was adjourned until Jan. 23.

"The uncertainty seems to be lifting and things seem to be returning to normal," said Atif Zafar, a research analyst at the JS Global financial services company.

Maple Leaf Cement was in the limelight, rising 2.3 percent to 16.00 rupees per share, with strong quarter results expected in the cement sector driving up shares, traders said.

In the currency market, the Pakistani rupee ended steady at 97.65/97.70 against the dollar, compared to Friday's close of 97.64/97.69.

Overnight rates in the money market ended at 8.75 percent compared to Thursday's close of 9.25 percent. (Compiled by the Karachi newsroom)

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