LOCAL EQUITIES barely moved as the Aug. 22 to Sept. 19 Chinese “ghost month” began, with political noise and the peso’s continued weakness providing earthward pull yesterday.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index shed 0.8 of a point or 0.01% to close at 8,015.93, while the broader all-shares index edged up by 2.32 points or 0.04% to 4,737.16.

“(The) market (was) slightly down,” Regina Capital Development Corp. President Marita A. Limlingan said in a text message.

“Political noise as well as external factors ruled the day. There was lack of catalyst that would push market up,” she said, particularly citing the public outcry over a reinvigorated anti-drug war that has again claimed scores of lives, including that of a high- school student who was killed in suspicious circumstances as well as President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s decision to accept the resignation of embattled Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon who has borne the brunt of blame for the smuggling in May of more than 600 kilograms of methamphetamine worth P6.4 billion.

Ms. Limlingan also attributed the market’s slump to the depreciation of the peso, which closed to a fresh 11-year low on Friday last week of P51.49 against the greenback. The local unit yesterday closed just 0.486% stronger at P51.24 to the dollar, but it was still  3.057% weaker from end-2016’s P49.72-per-dollar rate.

Other Asian markets were mostly up, with only Japan’s Nikkei 225 index shedding 0.05%. Japan’s TOPIX, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, Shanghai-Shenzhen’s CSI 300, South Korea’s Kospi, the S&P/ASX 200 and MSCI AC Asia Pacific gained 0.06%, 0.91%, 0.30%, 0.44%, 0.42% and 0.03%, respectively.

The six Philippine sectoral indices were equally divided between those that gained and those that declined.

Those that increased consisted of mining and oil that advanced by 101.61 points or 0.79% to close 12,860.76, industrial firms that gained 55.98 points or 0.50% to 11,121.94 and holding firms that rose by 26.80 points or 0.34% to finish 7,858.22.

Those that declined consisted of the property sector that lost 28.17 points or 0.74% to end 3,761.21, services that dropped 2.55 points or 0.15% to 1,702.84 and financials which slipped by 2.01 points or 0.1% to 2,004.79.

A total of 921.44 million issues worth P6.12 billion changed hands, compared to last Friday’s turnover of 64.50 million shares worth P5.39 billion. Stocks that lost trumped those that gained 112 to 91, while 37 were unchanged.

Foreigners were net buyers for the 10th straight trading day, though volume was the smallest in that period at P12 million.

Stocks that gained included Universal Robina Corp., Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Jollibee Foods Corp. and Philweb Corp. that rose 0.67% to close P151 apiece, 1.37% to P89, 2.04% to P240 and by 17.18% to P11.12 each. Those that fell included SM Prime Holdings, Inc.; BDO Unibank, Inc. and Ayala Land, Inc. that lost 1.02% to end P34.10, 1.23% to P128.60 and 0.81% to P42.60 each. — Arra B. Francia