November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

PHL stocks fall as investors await Fed statement

STOCKS slipped on Wednesday as traders switched to profit-taking ahead of the conclusion of the US Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) failed to sustain Tuesday’s climb as it declined 0.27% or 20.84 points to close at 7,682.26 yesterday.

The broader all-shares index was also down by 0.03% or 1.45 points to close at 4,603.12.

“Investors opted to book some profits and stay at the sidelines ahead of a US Fed meeting later today,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Justino B. Calaycay, Jr. said in a text message on Wednesday.

The US central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee was set to conclude a two-day policy meeting overnight. Investors expect policy makers to drop hints on future rate increases.

Most sectoral indices closed in negative territory. Services led the decline as it lost 0.63% or 10.14 points to 1,596.74, followed by holding firms, which fell 0.27% or 21.46 points to 7,817.35. The industrials counter also slipped 0.23% or 26.86 points to 11,373.32; financials dropped by 0.22% or 4.3 points to 1,893.06; and property dipped by 0.02% or 0.67 point to 3,373.15.

Meanwhile, the mining and oil counter defied the market’s performance as it soared by 2.72% or 339.02 points to 12,772.82 after the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected Regina Paz L. Lopez’s appointment as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Ms. Lopez had been bypassed twice by the commission before Wednesday’s final verdict.

“The sector was very cheerful over the CA outcome, like a black veil was lifted, a burden removed. Though the miners, I believe weren’t against Ms. Lopez’ objectives of protecting the environment by responsible industry practices, the seeming gung-ho approach to policy, the lack of clarity and the perceived arbitrariness of the orders and the decisions left the miners unsure of what direction to take,” Mr. Calaycay said.

Summit Securities, Inc. President Harry G. Liu said the CA’s rejection of Ms. Lopez’s appointment will stabilize the mining industry for the time being until President Rodrigo R. Duterte appoints another candidate.

“(Ms. Lopez) has set certain policies for the good of the industry and for the country, it removes the illegal ones,” Mr. Liu said.

Advancers beat decliners, 98 to 92, while 52 names closed flat.

A total of 3.89 billion issues changed hands for a value turnover of P6.41 billion, lower than Tuesday’s P7.25 billion. Net foreign buying dropped to P161.09 million from Tuesday’s P333.12 million.

Philex Mining Corp. is one of three key Philippine units of First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. -- Arra B. Francia