THE MAIN INDEX started the week with gains as investors continued looking for bargain stocks following last week’s sell-off.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) picked up 84.90 points or 1.45% to close at 5,930.92 on Monday. The broader all shares index increased 45.84 points or 1.32% to end at 3,513.37.

“Bargain hunting spilled over to the start of the week as the latest (United States) employment report showed the economy added more jobs than expected last month…,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message.

The Nasdaq closed lower on Friday, as data showed a sharp slowdown in US employment growth and investors worried lawmakers would fail to agree on another fiscal stimulus bill to bolster the economy from a coronavirus-induced recession.

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones index ended flat to slightly higher on the day.

With the benchmark S&P 500 index now about 1.5% below its record high, defensive sectors including utilities and real estate were among the gainers. Tech-related stocks, which have fueled a Wall Street rally since March, posted the biggest declines and helped push the Nasdaq down more than 1% during the session.

The United States reported adding 1.8 million jobs in July, its third straight month of improvement, to boost its slowing economy that saw a record 20.5 million job losses in April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 46.50 points or 0.17% to 27,433.48; the S&P 500 gained 2.12 points or 0.06% to 3,351.28; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 97.09 points or 0.87% to 11,010.98.

Leftover optimism, as well as bargain hunting, brought the PSEi up on Monday, particularly from a push from the property sector.

“Investors picked up on (the property) sector after it had the biggest loss last week of 3.46% week-on-week,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Associate Claire T. Alviar said in a text message. The property index rose 72 points or 2.56% to 2,884.12 on Monday.

Most of the other sectoral indices also ended the session with gains. Holding firms grew 103.76 points or 1.73% to 6,076.56; industrials increased 107.34 points or 1.39% to 7,822.97; services added 15.94 points or 1.12% to 1,437.12; and mining and oil climbed 43.85 points or 0.75% to 5,856.25. The only index in red territory was financials, which shed 6.06 points or 0.54% to 1,115.65 at the end of session.

Monday’s value turnover of P4.88 billion was down from Friday’s P10.92 billion. Some 82.96 billion issues switched hands.

“Trading…remained tepid with value turnover of P4.88 billion only, lower than year-to-date’s average of P6.5 billion, indicating that some investors are on the sidelines waiting for the fresh strong catalyst to move the market,” Ms. Alviar said.

Advancers outnumbered decliners, 125 against 74, while 45 names ended unchanged. Net foreign selling dropped to P714.27 million from P6.78 billion in the last session. — Denise A. Valdez