By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX ended flat on Monday as investors slowly made their way back to trading after the Holy Week break.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) slipped by 0.03% or 2.72 points to close at 7,832.43 yesterday. The broader all-shares index likewise declined 0.04% or two points to finish at 4,834.68.

“Our local index closed the day relatively unchanged after the holiday… The PSEi has continued to trade sideways, with locals selling into the rallies we have seen so far this year,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. President William Matthew M. Cabangon said in a text message Monday.

Financial markets were closed for two days last week for the Holy Week break.

“Investors are slowly making their way back from the holiday and volumes will continue to pick up as first quarter earnings are underway,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a separate mobile phone message.

Four sectoral indices moved to negative territory, led by the mining and oil counter which dropped 0.89% or 69.15 points to 7,665.27. Property fell 0.59% or 25 points to 4,155.35; financials shed 0.46% or 8.04 points to 1,733.66; while industrials slumped 0.34% or 40.16 points to 11,572.77.

Meanwhile, services climbed 0.64% or 10.42 points to 1,618.03. Holding firms also rose 0.5% or 37.86 points to 7,532.75.

Value turnover stood at P6.68 billion after some 531.48 million issues switched hands, higher than the previous session’s P5.45 billion.

Amid thin trading, foreign investors continued to support the PSEi as they recorded net purchases worth P1.25 billion, reversing the previous session’s net outflows of P63.33 million.

Decliners outpaced advancers, 101 to 74, while 54 names were unchanged.

“For the index to break out and sustain above 8,000, we will need to see local sentiment turn positive. A strong Q1 GDP (gross domestic product) number being released early next month could be the catalyst we need to move higher meaningfully,” AAA Southeast Equities’ Mr. Cabangon said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority is scheduled to release first-quarter GDP data on May 9.

Meanwhile, overseas, Wall Street indices ended in positive territory last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average firmed up 0.42% or 110 points to close at 26,559.54. The S&P 599 index added 0.16% or 4.58 points to 2,905.03, while the Nasdaq Composite Index eked out gains of 0.02% or 1.98 points to 7,998.06.

Most Southeast Asian stock markets also advanced on Monday as a string of strong US corporate earnings coupled with robust economic data boosted risk sentiment, while Indonesia fell more than 1% after sharp gains last week.