• PH shares retreat below 6,700 before BSP move

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    Philippine shares dipped below the 6,700-point level on Thursday, before the central bank announced its decision to keep policy rates steady, but managed to cut losses at the close.

    The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) retreated for the fifth straight session and settled at 6,699.39, losing 3.74 points, or 0.06 percent. In contrast, the wider all shares index slightly recovered from Wednesday’s 6.43-point loss, adding 4.93 points, or 0.12 percent to close at 4,028.64.

    A majority of the sectoral indices also finished in the red, although the services and mining and oil sectors ended the day in positive territory. Industrials were down 16.53 points, or 0.16 percent at 10,274.53, while property shed 3.60 points, or 0.14 percent to 2,575.76. Financials were off by 1.57 points, or 0.10 percent to 1,578.12, and holding firms dropped 1.67 points, or 0.03 percent to end at 6,127.45.

    Services, meanwhile, added 4.13 points, or 0.21 percent to close at 1,993.84. The day’s bright spot was once again mining and oil, which surged 534.88 points, or a 3.48 percent to 15,912.57, driven for the second day in a row by Philex Mining Corp., which increased 14.58 percent to P1.40.

    Philex Mining disclosed on Wednesday that a suspension order against its Padcal Mine operations by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had been lifted.

    “Uncertainty on today’s [Thursday’s] interest rate action triggered intraday profit-taking,” BPI Asset Management said in its daily report.

    Lexter Azurin, research analyst at Unicapital Securities Inc., said in a phone interview that the BSP meeting had left a dragging effect on the stock market with investors remaining cautious on what action the Monetary Board might take.

    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) announcement that it would keep its benchmark policy rates steady was made an hour after the market closed. The Monetary Board also maintained reserve ratio requirements for banks.

    “We’re going to see some positive movements now because in the past few days, investors were just so focused on the BSP meeting. We might see some improvement in [market]activity,” Azurin said.

    Despite the overall decline, advancing issues outnumbered decliners, 107 to 75, with 42 issues unchanged on a fairly active day that saw 3.7 billion shares worth P11.9 billion changing hands.

    Thursday’s most actively traded stocks were Ayala Land Inc., down 0.33 percent at P30.05, Philippine Stock Exchange Inc., up 0.36 percent at P282, Melco Crown Philippines Resorts Corp., down 6.08 percent at P11.44, and Nickel Asia Corp., up 0.88 percent at P28.55.

    Melco Crown shares plummeted after the company sought the approval of the exchange to extend the voluntary stock trading suspension in order to give the investing public more time to digest its plan for a top-up placement.

    The company earlier said it was planning to raise P5.4 billion via a top-up or private share placement to bankroll its capital expenditures for City of Dreams, a casino resort in the state-run Entertainment City scheduled for opening later this year.

    In Wednesday’s trade, the PSEi opened sharply lower but reduced its losses late in the session, ending down by only 1.80 points, or 0.03 percent at 6,703.13.

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