LOCAL SHARES firmed up on Thursday, reversing losses seen at the start of the session as investors cheered the growth in the country’s manufacturing sector seen last month.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) bounced back 0.65% or 52.36 points to 8,098.16, managing to reverse losses incurred in the morning. The broader all-shares index likewise went up 0.29% or 14.45 points to 4,904.51.

“Our market massively outperformed the rest of its Asian peers. It could be due to the fact that manufacturing PMI data came in today with the Philippines’ new order growth at a six-month high,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail on Thursday.

IHS Markit Philippines Manufacturing Managers’ Index data released on Thursday showed that manufacturing growth accelerated for the third consecutive month in July to 52.1. The research firm said this was the strongest monthly reading so far in 2019.

The strong manufacturing data offset the negative sentiment at the start of trading, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell hinted that the central bank’s rate cut might not be the beginning of a long series of reductions.

At its July 30-31 meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee reduced benchmark rates by 25 basis points, the first cut since 2008.

Wall Street indices fell following Mr. Powell’s remarks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.23% or 333.75 points to 26,864.27. The S&P 500 index slumped 1.09% or 32.80 points to 2,980.38, while the Nasdaq Composite index retreated 1.19% or 98.19 points to 8,175.42.

For Philstocks Financial, Inc., the PSEi’s decline in the morning caused investors to look for bargains near the market’s close.

“The local bourse ended higher…as investors hunted for bargains after the market declined below the 8,000 level,” the brokerage said in the market note, adding that SM Prime Holdings, Inc.’s gains helped the PSEi recover.

The Sy-led property developer’s shares jumped 4.11% to P38 each on Thursday, and was among the list of 20 most actively traded stocks for the day.

The services counter was the lone loser out of six sub-indices as it plunged 1.43% or 23.56 points to 1,620.79.

The rest went up, led by property which jumped 1.6% or 67.91 points to 4,302.24. Mining and oil climbed 1.09% or 86.06 points to 7,971.84; financials rose 0.9% or 16.59 points to 1,859.08; industrials went up 0.72% or 81.72 points to 11,334.24; while holding firms added 0.06% or 5.40 points to 7,849.76.

Decliners trumped advancers, 116 to 82, while 44 names remained flat.

Turnover stood at P6.66 billion after some 1.86 billion issues switched hands, lower than Wednesday’s P7.45 billion.

Foreign investors turned net buyers, albeit at a minimal P51.27 million, coming from the previous session’s P465.49-million net outflow. — Arra B. Francia