PSEi sinks below 8,000 on concerns over US, China

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SHARES moved sideways last week as investors looked at the heating trade war between the United States and China alongside a higher inflation figure back home for March.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) edged 0.95% or 76.5 points lower to 7,945.66 on Friday.

On a weekly basis, the market was down 0.42%, with an average of 105 losers versus 99 advancers.

Value turnover was around P7.58 billion last week.

Foreign investors also chose to place their investments elsewhere, as net sales averaged to P1.5 billion for the week.

“The index started the week in the green on the first two days of the week, trading above our key support level at 8,000 which gave investors some hope, but then in the last three days no buyers could be found, thus bringing the index back down below 8,000,” Eagle Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in a market note.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Wednesday that inflation for March was at 4.3%, faster than the 3.1% recorded in the same period last year and 3.8% in February. This brought the first quarter’s average inflation to 3.8%, toward the upper end of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ 2-4% target.

“Inflation was higher than expected, therefore causing some concern among investors and prompted them to remain on the sidelines,” Mr. Mangun said.

The market also saw investors react to the Department of Labor and Employment’s order for Jollibee Foods Corp. to regularize around 7,000 employees. JFC noted that it will hold discussions with the department on how to resolve the issue.

Shares in JFC lost 0.71% or P2 to close at P278 each last Friday.

The rocky sessions in international markets also continued to affect sentiment in Asian markets, the Philippines included. The US and China have yet to resolve the trade stand-off that began with US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Online brokerage 2TradeAsia.com noted that markets are betting on the willingness of officials from both parties to resolve the trade issues, saying that “more bridges will boost trade and walls will only lead to isolation.”

“The tariffs in dispute covers transactions between the US and China. Regardless of outcome, the Philippines’ ability to export and import to these countries boils down on demand. And, with jobs data improving, one should properly discern the continuity of trade-related orders,” 2TradeAsia said.

Meanwhile, US stocks dropped about 2% on Friday, with the Dow falling more than 570 points, as Mr. Trump’s latest tariff threat on Chinese imports fueled increasing concern over a US trade war with China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 572.46 points or 2.34% to 23,932.76; the S&P 500 lost 58.37 points or 2.19% to 2,604.47; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 161.44 points or 2.28% to 6,915.11. — Arra B. Francia with Reuters