Shares post small gain as market looks for leads

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SHARES moved up on Tuesday, managing to reverse early losses, as investors looked for leads while turning cautious on the release of fourth-quarter earnings reports.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 0.14% or 12.48 points to finish at 8,722.70, reversing intraday losses that saw the market sink back to the 8,600 level.

The all-shares index, meanwhile, picked up 0.12% or 6.59 points to 5,129.79.

“Philippine markets traded slightly in the green even with not enough market-making activity plus no new earnings releases,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

Papa Securities Corp. Deputy Head of Research Arabelle C. Maghirang, meanwhile, noted that the release of earnings reports next week may prompt increased trading.

“The choppy trading may be a reflection of investor caution as we approach earnings season. 4Q (Fourth-quarter) figures from MER, SCC, BDO, and MWC all come out early next week and may turn out to be the pivotal force to push the PSEi’s out of its lull,” Ms. Maghirang said, referring to Manila Electric Co., Semirara Mining and Power Corp., BDO Unibank, Inc., and Manila Water Company, Inc., respectively.

The government’s release of guidelines for the third telco player also propped up prices of stocks in that sector. Now Corp., which investors have been speculating to become the third player, was the day’s most actively traded stock, closing 29.03% higher to P14.58 apiece.

Meanwhile, telecom giants PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. also posted gains of 2.64% to P1,596 and 1.59% to P1,850 each, respectively.

Four sectoral indices moved to positive territory, while two ended the day with losses.

The mining and oil sector climbed 0.88% or 105.35 points to 12,013.55; services inched up 0.57% or 9.96 points to 1,738.40; property gained 0.49% or 19.55 points to 3,958.16; while holding firms posted a 0.36% increase or 32.19 points to 8,862.80.

On the other hand, financials dropped 1.08% or 24.66 points to 2,242.20, while industrials had a modest decrease of 0.02% or 2.74 points to 11,470.86.

Some 3.47 billion issues valued at P7.85 billion switched hands, thinner than Monday’s value turnover of P9.7 billion.

Decliners trumped advancers 116 to 95, while 53 names ended flat.

Foreign investors reversed their buying position, posting net sales of P423.42 million on Tuesday against net purchases of P44.93 million in the previous session.

Trading in the United States was suspended on Monday for the annual celebration of Presidents’ Day.

Meanwhile, most Asian markets were down on Tuesday, tracking the general decrease seen in US stock futures. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed as much as 0.70%. — Arra B. Francia with Reuters