By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX eked out gains on Tuesday as investors went bargain hunting ahead of the second-quarter earnings season.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) added 0.05% or 4.63 points to close at 8,251.46, a day after President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA). Meanwhile, the broader all-shares index slipped 0.07% or 3.72 points to 4,990.95.

“Late afternoon bargain hunting lifted the local market… Investors will now be shifting their focus on second-quarter earnings and upcoming policy meetings from monetary authorities both here and abroad,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. said in a market note.

For Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan, investors were watching out for the US Federal Reserve’s action on interest rates during its July 30-31 policy meeting.

“Investors adjusted expectations immediately after the SONA and around a widely anticipated rate cut by the Federal Reserve at the end of the month,” Mr. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

Mr. Duterte on Monday asked Congress to pass at least 18 bills, including the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher-quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) and the rest of the tax reform packages. The TRABAHO bill will reduce corporate income tax rates and update fiscal incentives, and could “energize” micro, small, and medium enterprises.

On the other hand, the Federal Reserve is expected to reduce benchmark rates by 25 basis points in a bid to sustain the US’ economic expansion.

This led to a more positive performance for markets overseas. The Dow Jones Industrial Average firmed up 0.07% or 17.70 points to 27,171.90. The S&P 500 index increased 0.28% or 8.42 points to 2,985.03, while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 0.71% or 57.65 points to 8,204.14.

Most Southeast Asian stock markets also inched higher on Tuesday on expectations of monetary policy easing by major central banks such as the Fed.

Back home, four sectoral indices moved to positive territory, led by mining and oil which jumped 0.65% or 52.87 points to 8,130.69. Holding firms advanced 0.56% or 44.80 points to 7,996.20; industrials rose 0.13% or 15.83 points to 11,720.14, while property went up 0.08% or 3.53 points to 4,389.13.

In contrast, services plunged 0.97% or 16.37 points to 1,655.25, while financials shed 0.37% or 6.94 points to 1,868.88.

Turnover climbed to P6.72 billion after some 1.45 billion issues switched hands, against the previous session’s P5.99 billion.

Decliners outpaced advancers, 103 to 88, while 57 names were unchanged.

Foreign investors remained net buyers for the eighth straight session, albeit at a smaller P45.64 million versus Monday’s P631.99 million.