November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Stock market hardly moves on lack of leads

THE Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) barely moved yesterday in the absence of any catalyst.

At the close of trading on Friday, the benchmark index settled at 7889.33, up 1.02 points or 0.01% from Thursday’s 7888.31. The broader all-shares index likewise hardly moved, shedding only 0.04 points to end the day at 4735.12.

Counters were mixed, with the financials, services and property sub-indices up, and the holding firms, mining and oil, and industrials down. senior analyst Justino B. Calaycay, Jr. attributed the small gain to the lack of a catalyst: “Obviously there’s not enough to push the stocks higher or lower. Value turnover is rather thin.”

Decliners outnumbered advancers by only two, with 46 issues unchanged. Trading value eased to P6.901 billion, as 2.029 billion shares changed hands.

“Basically this is just a continuation of the index’s short-term range trade,” said Regina Capital Development Corporation (RCDC) analyst Paul Michael Angelo in an e-mail.

“Stock market actually closed 0.6% higher compared to Monday opening so I don’t think it is bearish. Considering the volume that we had today, I think this is just a preparation for a stronger week ahead,” he said, adding that the release of external trade data next week could be a catalyst.

The most actively traded stocks were Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (up by 3.63%), its parent GT Capital Holdings, Inc. (down 0.41%), Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (down 0.22%) Ayala Land, Inc. (up by 0.13%), and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (up by 0.15%).

“We’re keeping tabs on a handful of stocks,” said Mr. Calaycay, citing Meralco, Global-Estate Resorts, Inc (GERI) and Travelers International Hotel Group, Inc.

Resorts World-owner Travelers got a boost from news it was accelerating development of its hotels. This came several days after the state regulator lifted a suspension order on the casino-operator, which last month shuttered because of a fire set off by an individual.

“GERI is a bit surprising, although we have been particularly bullish on the stock,” said RCDC’s Mr. Angelo. “I guess the market is now beginning to appreciate the sound earnings that GERI contributed to MEG during 1Q17 and is expected to continue the same momentum for the first half of 2017.”

Megaworld Corp. is the parent company of GERI, which is among the day’s top gainers, climbing 15.33%. Others in the top five are MJC Investments Corporation (up 12.50%), MacroAsia Corporation (up 9.54%), The Philodrill Corporation and Century Properties Group (each up 8.33%).

Philstocks’ Mr. Calaycay sees the market trading sideways in the next couple of weeks, with a big movement expected to come right after President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s State of the Nation Address later this month. -- Mario M. Banzon