Bourse ends flat with no surprises from the Fed

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By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX closed largely unchanged on Thursday as investors had already factored in the Federal Reserve’s rate cut in previous sessions.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) slipped by 0.05% or 3.97 points to close at 7,911.32 amid sluggish trading for most of the session, while the broader all-shares index was similarly edged 0.07% or 3.47 points lower to 4,782.96.

“It was another quiet session for the local market after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark federal funds rate in line with market expectations,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

The Fed cut key interest rates by 25 basis points after its two-day policy meeting, as widely expected by analysts. This is the US central bank’s second interest rate reduction since July, as the central bank addresses concerns about slowing global growth. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the move should help keep the US economy strong, although this may be the last rate cut for the year.

“The local market in the second half of trading rallied but failed to break above the previous close following sentiments that the US Fed may not cut anymore rates for 2019, and the lack of catalyst sent the Philippine main index down,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. said in a market note.

Wall Street indices were mixed after the rate cut decision, due to questions about US monetary authorities’ next move. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.13% and the S&P 500 eked out gains of 0.03%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped by 0.11%.

Asian stocks were similarly mixed with Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix indices rising 0.38% and 0.56%, respectively; while the Shanghai SE Composite rallied 0.46% and South Korea’s Kospi index jumped 0.46%.

On the other hand, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index retreated 1.07%; India’s S&P BSE Sensex index fell by 1.22%; and Singapore’s Straits Times Index gave up 0.05%.

Back home, sectoral indices stayed equally divided between those that advanced and those that declined. The property sub-index climbed 1.25% or 50.11 points to finish 4,059.53; the industrial sector rose 0.2% or 22.52 points to 10,980.25; while financials added 0.2% or 3.71 points to 1,800.12.

Holding firms plunged 0.9% or 71.10 points to 7,827.34; services shed 0.54% or 8.61 points to 1,585.63; while mining and oil lost 0.22% or 21.25 points to 9,395.04.

Turnover was thin as 453.90 million shares worth P4.117 billion switched hands, compared to Wednesday’s 451.06 million shares worth P6.74 billion. Stocks that lost outnumbered those that gained 108 to 86, while 53 others ended flat. Foreign investors were net sellers for the third straight session at P398.84 million, the biggest outflow in that period.