Stock prices extended their decline on Tuesday, March 6, following reports on February inflation accelerating to its fastest pace in three years.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gave up 0.31% or 25.95 points to 8,360.22 on Tuesday, marking its fifth consecutive day of losses. The broader all-shares index also closed lower by 0.2% or 10.17 points to 5,033.72.

“Philippine markets closed lower as the lack of any positive developments led investors to sell down the market a fifth consecutive trading day. Investors were also surprised to see that base on the 2006 base, inflation for February came it at 4.5%,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that inflation for February stood at 4.5%, piercing the 2-4% target set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, but within the BSP’s Department of Economic Research’s revised target range of 4-4.8%. The figure also breached the median 4.2% forecast from BusinessWorld’s poll of 14 economists.

This is the fastest inflation since August 2014’s 4.9%.

“This raises the possibility of a rate hike in the upcoming Monetary Policy meeting this coming March 22,” Papa Securities Corp. Deputy Head of Research Arabelle C. Maghirang said in an email.

Among the day’s top gainers was D&L Industries, Inc., up 2.39% to P12 each after reporting a 10.6% profit growth to P2.9 billion. Puregold Price Club, Inc. gained 2.21% to P53.15 each; Bloomberry Resorts Corp was up 1.12% to P14.46; while JG Summit Holdings, Inc added 1.55% to P65.70. — Arra B. Francia