November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Local stocks climb as investors pick up bargains

LOCAL EQUITIES climbed on Thursday as traders took advantage of Wednesday’s slump and went bargain hunting.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 0.53% or 40.47 points to close at 7,563.45.

The broader all-shares index likewise went up 0.42% or 19.14 points to settle at 4,521.21.

“The market closed up 40 points after being down in early morning trade. It looks like the bulls went bargain hunting from yesterday’s low and pushed the market up today,” PNB Securities President Manuel Antonio G. Lisbona said on Thursday

The bellwether PSEi had been trading sideways in the start of the week as traders failed to find positive leads to prompt any movement.

“Philippine market closed higher as the probability of a June rate hike is now below 50% and with new information on the latest release of the Beige Book,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said.

The US Federal Reserve released the Beige Book on Wednesday, which contains a summary of the country’s economic conditions. The report said the US economy expanded at a modest-to-moderate pace between mid-February and the end of March, but inflation pressures remained in check despite more difficulties in attracting and retaining workers.

“On balance, prices rose modestly,” the US central bank said in its periodic gauge of the health of the economy derived from surveying business contacts nationwide.

Firms mostly expected price growth to be mild to moderate over the coming months, the Fed added.

The Fed raised its benchmark interest rate in March for the second time in three months and many policy makers appear bullish on the prospects of more tightening this year with the nation near full employment and inflation slowly rising.

Four sectoral counters were up, with industrials and holding firms leading the gains rising by 0.83% apiece to 11,278.36 and 7,667.87, respectively. The property sector also went up by 0.51% or 17.02 points to 3,309.66 and financials inched up by 0.31% or 5.88 points to 1,880.11.

In contrast, the services counter dipped 0.15% or 2.41 points to 1,567.77 while mining and oil closed at 11,987.08, lower by 0.14% or 17.03 points.

A total of 1 billion issues changed hands, accounting for a value turnover of P5.94 billion, up from the previous day’s P5.56 billion. This number, however, is still on the thin side, PNB Securities’ Mr. Lisbona said.

Decliners narrowly beat advancers, 96 to 94, as 43 issues remained unchanged.

Foreigners continued to sell their stocks, as net outflows increased to P341.10 billion from Wednesday’s P306.71 billion.

“Support level for the market is at 7,476, but [we] would like to see the gap between 7,456 and 7,476 covered sooner rather than later,” Mr. Lisbona said. -- A.B. Francia with Reuters