LOCAL STOCKS this week could continue their climb in the face of fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data due Tuesday that are expected to make full-year growth hit the government’s 6.5-7.5% target for 2017, confirming the Philippines’ place in the ranks of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.

The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) jumped 1.07% last Friday to finish at 8,915.92, crossing the 8,900 line for the first time in seven trading days since Jan. 10’s 8,920.29 finish and recovering from two straight trading sessions of decline.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank) and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) both announced stock rights offerings last week, but their prices got negative market feedback. Both stocks rebounded strongly on Friday, helping the bourse recover as BPI closed 7.39% up at P123.50 apiece while Metrobank finished 2.04% higher at P100.20 per share.

Week on week, the local barometer was up 101.3 points or 1.15%

Foreigners remained predominantly buyers for the sixth straight trading day, with last week logging an average P570.39-million net buying that was 13.57% more than the preceding trading week’s P502.25 million.

“Next week, we have the GDP (data) for the fourth quarter,” Diversified Securities, Inc. equities trader Aniceto K. Pangan said in a telephone interview on Friday last week.

“It may be a catalyst for the market to continue to move upward.”

The government is scheduled to announce the country’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 GDP performance on Jan. 23.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia last month said he expected fourth-quarter GDP growth to clock faster than the 6.7% average of 2017’s first nine months, while Moody’s Analytics last Friday said it estimated the last three months’ pace at 6.7%, placing the economy’s  full-year performance comfortably within the government’s 6.5-7.5% target.

In a weekly report, Eagle Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun on Friday said that the PSEi could test the 9,000 level this week.

“For the last two weeks, the market has been building a base between 8,750 and 8,920 to breach the 9,000 level. With the continued inflow of foreign and local money, I have no doubt that we will see it test 9,000 next week. The other possibility is we continue to build within this area for even more momentum so that we can break and more importantly stay above 9,000,” Mr. Mangun said, putting market support level at 8,700-8,770 and resistance range at 8,930-9,000.

Meanwhile, online brokerage 2TradeAsia.com said the market will take cues from the release of data on US unemployment claims and new homes sales on Jan. 25 “to gauge the strength of economic growth in one of the Philippines’ major trading partners.” — A. B. Francia