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Pakistan's big banks reap rewards of bullish investor mood

Pakistani banks have been reaping the rewards of the local equity market's buoyant 2016 performance, which led to the benchmark Pakistan KSE 100 growing 89.25% between year-end 2013 and Jan. 10, 2017.

"The listed banking space has returned 28.6% in 2016," Zoya Ahmed Zaidi, a senior investment analyst at AKD Securities Ltd. in Pakistan, told S&P Global Market Intelligence. This was spurred by several factors, including the entry of Habib Bank Ltd., United Bank Ltd. and MCB Bank Ltd. into the MSCI Emerging Market bracket reserved for large caps.

Of the five biggest Pakistani banks by assets, United Bank performed the best with total returns of 124.88% from year-end 2013 through year-end 2016, followed by Habib Bank and Allied Bank Ltd. with returns of 118.34% and 77.92%, respectively. State-owned National Bank of Pakistan and MCB Bank saw returns of 67.98% and 11.68%, respectively.

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