• Peso, stock market hit by US-NKorea tensions

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    Renewed tensions between the US and North Korea weighed on financial markets Friday, with the peso touching P51 to the dollar and closing at a near 11-year low.

    The currency opened weaker at P50.90:$1 from the previous day and hit P51.08 in morning trade. It closed Friday down 19 centavos at P50.98, its weakest since the P50.05:$1 recorded on August 29, 2006.

    The Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi), meanwhile, shed 37.82 points or 0.48 percent to close at 7,928.43. The broader All Shares declined by 26.75 points or 0.57 percent to settle at 4,681.81.

    Analysts pointed to an escalating war of words between Washington and Pyongyang, with US President Donald
    Trump indicating that he could go beyond a threat to unleash “fire and fury”.

    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it was ready to address currency spikes.

    “We’re constantly monitoring peso developments for excessive short -term volatility not consistent with underlying economic fundamentals and take appropriate action when necessary,” central bank Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr said.

    “We recognize that the market is also often self-correcting,” he added.

    Commenting on the peso fall, Citi managing director and head of Asia Pacific economic and market analysis Johanna Chua said: “This is a natural automatic adjustment for an economy that is staring to import and spend more.”

    “For us, it’s not a cause for concern,” she added.

    A stock market analyst, meanwhile, acknowledged the impact of geopolitical tensions but also noted that investors were acting on latest profit figures.

    “I think the global equities’ sentiment was due to escalating tension between the US and North Korea. Locally though, corporate earnings still weighed on investors sentiment,” IB Gimenez Securities Inc. research head Joylin Telagen said.

    “For [next]week, the main focus will be the second quarter gross domestic product [GDP] to be released on Thursday. Better-than-expected GDP could possibly retest the 8,000 level. Downside risk is at 7,800,” she added.

    Regina Capital Development Corp., meanwhile, said the Philippine market “suffered the same fate as everyone regionally, succumbing to the panic as tensions between the US and North Korea persisted after President Donald Trump doubled down its rhetoric against Pyongyang.”

    Eagle Equities, Inc. President Joseph Roxas said the peso’s fall also pulled down market sentiment.

    Sectoral indices went mixed on Friday. Industrials rose 0.41 percent while the property sector fell 1.54 percent.
    Over 1.8 billion shares valued at P5.1 billion were traded.

    Decliners led gainers, 144 to 54, while 52 issues were unchanged.

    with ANGELICA BALLESTEROS

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