December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Stocks drop in thin trading after Lenten break

THE local barometer fell on Monday as investors looked for positive catalysts after the long holiday break.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index slipped 41.11 points or 0.53% to close at 7,588.53 on Monday after a two-day break.

The broader all-shares index likewise sank to 4,530.50, lower by 22.19 points or 0.48% from the previous trading day.

“Philippine markets started on a negative note as value turnover remained small due to long holidays and lack of positive catalysts,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said.

AP Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Frank Gerard J. Barboza was of the same view, saying that narrow volatility came with the thin volume trading.

“Traders seem to come slow from the long weekend and we might see volume pick up in the coming days,” Mr. Barboza said.

Value turnover came in at just P4.38 billion on Monday with 707.87 million shares changing hands, from April 12’s P6.19-billion worth.

Recent developments abroad, including the failed missile launch in North Korea and the US’ supposed retaliation, may have caused jitters among investors, analysts said.

“Tension between Washington and Pyongyang has escalated in recent weeks, unnerving Asian markets,” Mr. Limlingan said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.67% or 138.61 points last week to close at 20,453.25; the S&P 500 Index likewise slipped 0.68% or 15.98 points to 2,328.95.

Meanwhile, yesterday, the Nikkei Stock Average 225 rose 0.11% or 19.63 points to 18,355.26, while the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index closed 0.21% lower, losing 51.84 points to end at 24,261.66.

All local sectoral counters ended in negative territory, although declines were at less than 1% each. Services slipped 0.97% or 15.78 points to 1,598.40, followed by property which fell 26.06 points or 0.78% to 3,305.01. Industrials went down 0.69% or 78.57 points to 11,299.07; financials fell 0.56% or 10.71 points to 1,877.73; mining and oil dipped by 0.38% or 46.77 points to 12,100.16; and holding firms inched down by 0.16% or 12.55 points to 7,670.64.

Decliners beat advancers, 106 to 74, while 50 shares remained unchanged.

Foreigners turned sellers, with outflows logged at a net P109.65 million, a reversal of last Wednesday’s net foreign buying of P109.05 million.

“Right now we’re mostly down across sectors and real sentiments should reveal as better trade volume comes,” AP Securities’ Mr. Barboza said.

Most Southeast Asian stock markets likewise fell on Monday as investors sought refuge in safe-haven assets in the wake of mounting geopolitical tensions.

Already bruised by worries over North Korea and upcoming French elections, global investor sentiment was further hurt by weak US economic data. -- Arra B. Francia with Reuters