By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX eked out gains on Monday as investors mostly stayed on the sidelines ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) added 0.05% or 4.53 points to close at 8,188.52, managing to post gains despite being sold down for most of the day. The broader all-shares index likewise rose 0.15% or 7.44 points to 4,963.04.

“The main index was down for most of the day on below average trading volumes. Investors are on the sidelines as we await the outcome of the US Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail.

The US central bank’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will hold its two-day policy meeting from July 30-31, where it is expected to cut key interest rates by 25 basis points.

“Many expect the FOMC to cut the funds rate by 25 bps at the July meeting, as virtually all the signals from the Committee point this way. However, decision will be released only on Wednesday night (Manila time), and this event has kept many at bay,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

Four sectoral indices moved to positive territory, led by mining and oil which jumped 0.62% or 49.44 points to 7,920.41. Property climbed 0.43% or 18.76 points to 4,365.85; holding firms gained 0.12% or 9.56 points to 8,008.68, while financials firmed up 0.01% or 0.36 point to 1,848.85.

In contrast, services plunged 0.99% or 16.51 points to 1,635.39, while industrials shed 0.16% or 18.53 points to 11,449.21.

Turnover was thin at P4.84 billion after some 667.34 million issued switched hands, lower than Friday’s P5.90 billion.

Foreign investors remained in net selling position at P180.74 million, lower than the previous session’s P278.02 million.

Decliners outpaced advancers, 100 to 91, while 53 names were unchanged.

“The PSEi was able to stay above the support at 8,150. However, it is looking weaker and weaker by the day. We will not see the market go up until we get more volume. Hopefully it can still trade between the range of 8,150 and 8,300,” AAA Equities’ Mr. Mangun said.

Meanwhile, Wall Street indices ended higher last Friday on the back of strong earnings and better-than-expected US economic growth data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.19% or 51.47 points to 27,192.45. The S&P 500 index jumped 0.74% or 22.19 points to 3,025.86, while the Nasdaq Composite index surged 1.11% or 91.67 points to 8,330.21.

Positive sentiment failed to touch Asian stocks, as most also focused on FOMC’s decision as well as the resumption of trade talks between the US and China set on July 30.