• PH stocks climb on low Feb inflation


    Philippine shares climbed to push the benchmark index up to its 19th all-time closing high this year on a positive market reaction to the mild increase in February inflation.

    The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) inched up 0.54 percent or 42.29 points to close at 7,861.33, while the All Shares index added 0.40 percent or 18.39 points to 4,565.99.

    The previous record high for the PSEi was 7,847.83, recorded just this Wednesday, March 4.

    Joseph Roxas, Eagle Equities president, said in a phone interview the market drew support from the favorable inflation numbers for February and general optimism about the overall macroeconomic picture in the Philippines.

    “It is really the inflation [that pulled the market up]. Then also, we are the second fastest-growing economy in Asia and the world, next to China. It can only lead to bullish seasonal timing, and also factoring in the foreign markets being positive,” Roxas said.

    February inflation accelerated only slightly to 2.5 percent from 2.4 percent a month ago, reversing a five-month slowdown. The February figure is significantly lower than the 4.1 percent recorded a year earlier.

    Overnight, the US markets traded in positive territory, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 38.82 points, S&P 500 up a modest 2.51 points and Nasdaq up 15.67 points.

    Roxas said the market may be vulnerable to a correction in the next few days given the currently high valuations, but added that the general direction remains upward.

    “The market will still be bullish. Investors are still looking for cheap second-liners, mostly in the real estate sector like Filinvest [Land Inc.], Empire East, GERI [Global Estate Resorts Inc.], and Vista Land [and Lifescapes Inc.]. I think it’s really ‘buy on weakness’ in the following days,” he said.

    Empire East and GERI are under the Megaworld Corp. umbrella.
    Only the mining and oil and services counters fell among the sectoral indices, while the rest were gainers, led by the industrial index’s 1.03 percent advance.

    Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) was the top loser among the day’s active stocks, slumping 3.77 percent on a conflict between unit Maynilad and regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) regarding a water rate increase. Maynilad recently won an arbitration case against MWSS, effectively overturning the latter’s rejection of Maynilad’s rate application, but the award is yet to be implemented.

    Other major decliners in Friday trading were Megaworld and International Container Terminal Services Inc.

    Active gainers included Universal Robina Corp., Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, Nickel Asia Corp., Ayala Corp., First Philippine Holdings Corp., and Bank of the Philippine Islands.

    Trade volume was lower Friday than in sessions earlier in the week, with 5.12 billion shares valued at P6.53 billion changing hands. Decliners outnumbered advancers 91 to 86, while 49 issues ended unchanged.


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