Stocks retain record on steady rates, foreign funds


Philippine stocks closed little changed but remained in record territory, with solid gains in property shares saving the day, drawing much of the interest spurred by the central bank’s move to freeze its rates and the fund inflows from the more volatile US markets.

Although the local bourse is expected to grow more “immune” to the global markets’ volatility, trading in the coming days is seen likely to thin out due to the Lenten holidays.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) showing a slightly positive bias at the close, up 0.09 percent or 6.86 points at 7,877.96, still a record, marking the 21st time this year it finished at an all-time high.

The benchmark index broke the previous closing high of 7,871.10, recorded just the previous day, March 26, when buying was fueled by anticipation of the BSP rate decision and end-of-the-quarter window dressing.

The All Shares ended Friday nearly flat at 4,546.40, or up 0.20 of a point or 0.004 percent.

“The local market remains strong because of foreign buying as the US market is experiencing volatility again due to strong factors like the most recent bad durable goods numbers and the recent upsurge in oil prices,” Bryan Gomez, co-head of investments at Citisecurities Inc., said.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 40.31 points, while the S&P 500 edged down by 4.90 points, and the Nasdaq lost 13.16 points.

Gomez said the PSEi is expected “to continue its trend up a little bit more and hopefully, it stays immune to volatility in the US.”

Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Finance Inc., said given the volatility in the US markets, buyers were encouraged to move into local equities due to the Philippine central bank’s decision to keep its interest rates and targets low for the full year.

“With the BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] maintaining the rate, investors were encouraged by the position of the monetary board. It drove the local market up despite the lower US markets,” del Castillo said in a brief phone interview.

Del Castillo said the market may “quiet down” in the next few days as the Holy Week holiday approaches.

Holding firms and services were the only decliners, while the rest of the sectoral indices posted gains, led by the property counters, which rose 0.60 percent.

Gainers in Friday’s session included Universal Robina Corp., Energy Development Corp., Nickel Asia Corp., BDO Unibank Inc., and Robinsons Land Corp.

Stocks that were actively traded but ended flat included Ayala Corp. and Ayala Land Inc. while Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and Alliance Global Group Inc. were the active losers.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 100 to 69, while 52 issues ended unchanged.

Trade volume reached 1.97 billion shares, valued at P9.65 billion.


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