Stocks rise on strong Q1 economic growth data

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By Arra B. Francia, Reporter

LOCAL EQUITIES firmed up on Thursday, albeit with minimal gains, following the release of first-quarter economic growth figures that stayed within market expectations.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) climbed 0.20% or 15.73 points to close at 7,571, while the broader all-shares index added 0.20% or 9.42 points to 4,629.91.

“Overall the market just continued at the technical side, supported at the 7,500 level…Definitely GDP (gross domestic product) has already been inputted in the last few days. It was good news, ’cause if it wasn’t, the market would have ended lower,” Summit Securities, Inc. President Harry G. Liu said in a phone interview.

The Philippine Statistics Authority on Thursday reported that GDP growth for the first quarter came in at 6.8%, within market expectations but below the government’s 7-8% target for 2018.

“I guess this made the buying spree a bit weak today,” Timson Securities, Inc. trader Jervin S. de Celis said in a mobile phone message on Thursday.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia blamed higher inflation for hampering the country’s growth. If not for first-quarter inflation which stood at 4.5%, Mr. Pernia said that real GDP growth would have stayed within the government’s target.

On the other hand, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also decided to hike interest rates by 25 basis points after the market’s close on Thursday. The central bank also raised its inflation forecast to 4.6% in 2018 from 3.9% previously and 3.4% in 2019 from 3% before.

“The rise in inflation forecast for 2018 to 4.6% may also keep sentiments subdued until our index finds a solid catalyst and a strong support to resume its uptrend… This one has been hinted by the central bank a few days ago as well so I think the rate hike is somewhat priced in too in the index,” Mr. de Celis said.

Sectoral indices were split between gainers and losers. Financials advanced 1.36% or 25.33 points to 1,885.85. Services went up 0.57% or 8.7 points to 1,519.42, while property added 0.39% or 14.04 points to 3,607.25.

Meanwhile, holding firms lost 0.49% or 37.51 points to 7,562.66; mining and oil dipped 0.19% or 19.84 points to 10,075.38, while industrials shed 0.13% or 15.45 points to 11,080.63.

Trading volume remained thin at P5.50 billion after some 880.85 million issues switched hands, although higher than Wednesday’s P4.96-billion turnover.

“Volume is very thin, so any good news will definitely set a rally to the market to the resistance which I think is now at 7,800. Whatever news that comes out will just give the market a consolidation period,” Mr. Liu said.

Advancers trumped losers, 104 to 85, while 55 issues remained flat.

Net foreign outflows ballooned to P1.11 billion on Thursday from the P638.33-million net sales seen in the previous session.