Bourse ends in another record high

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LOCAL EQUITIES turned around at the last minute to finish at a fresh historic high after trading much of the day with losses, with analysts noting that investors’ safe-haven appetite was piqued by North Korea’s latest missile test on Friday.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) ended Friday at 8,180.85, 35.94 points or 0.44% more than Thursday’s 8,144.91, which was the previous record-high finish.

PSEi had corrected initially, opening nearly flat at 8.141.39 and then slipping by as much as 0.49% to 8,104.95.

Year to date, the PSEi has gained 19.6%.

The broader all-shares index similarly closed 20.42 points or 0.42% up at 4,836.33.

Five of the six sectoral indices ended with gains and foreigners turned net buyers.

“Market sentiment continues to be positive, buoyed by the favorable outlook of analysts on the overall market,” PSE quoted its president and chief executive officer, Ramon S. Monzon, as saying in a statement.

“This optimism was again validated with the market closing today at yet another record high and with trading value exceeding P11 billion,” he added.

“We remain hopeful that our market levels and trading volumes continue to be robust.”

Sought for comment, AB Capital Securities Inc. Senior Equity Analyst Lexter L. Azurin noted: “[W]e’re seeing a lot of optimism [over the] tax reform package” that is expected to hurdle the Senate “soon” and put the government on track in its plan to increase spending on infrastructure, with total expenditures reaching P8.44 trillion from 2017 to 2022.

Also still anchoring general optimism is the looming end to the Aug.22-Sept. 19 Chinese “ghost month”, during which investors put off major decisions, Mr. Azurin added.

Asked on stocks’ last-minute performance on Friday, Mr. Azurin said “it’s mainly because of the recent concerns in North Korea after launching their missile over Hokkaido”, prompting investors to run for cover in markets of countries deemed out of the hermit state’s sights.

Regina Capital Development Corp.’s head of sales, Luis A. Limlingan, noted that investors appeared to consider the Philippines less risky, adding that “the perception that we’ve entered bull market [territory grew] stronger.”

Overseas, much of Wall Street pulled back from Thursday’s historic records, with only the Dow Jones Industrial Average adding 0.2% to 22,203.48 on Friday, while the S&P 500 Index shed 0.11% to 2,495.62 and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.48% to 6,429.09.

Other Asian markets bared mixed fortunes on Friday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix Index, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Shanghai-Shenzhen CSI 300 gaining 0.52%, 0.42%, 0.11% and 0.03%, respectively, while the S&P/ASX 200 Index and the MSCI AS Asia Pacific shedding 0.76% and 0.21%, respectively.

With the exception of the financial sector, which lost 8.82 points or 0.45% to close 1,973.86, all the other five sub-indices gained: property increased by 50.19 or 1.30% to 3,926.80, mining and oil added 180.57 or 1.28% to 14,268.72, services increased by 12.63 points or 0.73% to 1,738.95, industrial firms rose by 75.22 or 0.67% to 11,367.26, while holding firms edged up 7.54 points or 0.09% to finish 8,050.10.

Friday saw only 98 issues gain, 101 decline and 48 unchanged.

The day also saw thinner trades, with 1.184 billion shares worth P11.184 billion changing hands, compared to Thursday’s 1.262 billion shares worth P8.448 billion.

Among Friday’s most-actively traded stocks, International Container Terminal Services, Inc.; Semirara Mining and Power Corp; Ayala Land, Inc. and SM Investments Corp. led those that gained, adding 2.45% to P108.80 apiece, 2.13% to P48, 1.93% to P45 and 1.21% to P835, respectively, while those that lost were led by GT Capital Holdings, Inc.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; JG Summit Holdings, Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands that lost 2.09% to P1,174 each; 1.88% to P14.58; 0.92% to P75.30 and 0.88% to P101, respectively.

Foreign activity also resulted in P473.68-million net foreign buying, compared to Thursday’s P99.812-million net foreign selling. – Anna Gabriela A. Mogato