By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX ended slightly lower on Thursday following slower gross domestic product (GDP) expansion in the second quarter.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went down 0.04% or 3.23 points to close at 7,914.16, failing to hold gains seen for most of the session. The broader all-shares index likewise dropped 0.18% or 9.09 points to 4,818.32.

“Philippine 2nd quarter GDP comes in at 5.5% which is the low end of the consensus. However, we did not see a much of a fallout on local equities…the main index ends almost unchanged, giving investors a breather after heavy volatility in the last two weeks,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail.

The Philippine economy grew by 5.5% in the April to June period, the slowest in four years. This is also lower than the 6-7% GDP growth target of the government for 2019.

The second-quarter print was likewise below the 5.9% median estimate in a BusinessWorld poll of 15 economists last week.

Papa Securities Corp. Sales Associate Gabriel Jose F. Perez noted that investors were mostly on the sidelines as they waited for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ policy meeting in the afternoon.

The central bank decided to cut rates by 25 basis points yesterday, as expected, while also reducing its inflation forecasts for 2019 to 2021.

Four sectoral indices moved to negative territory: holding firms shed 0.46% or 35.91 points to 7,676.14; property slipped 0.44% or 18.62 points to 4,161.55; financials sank 0.42% or 7.81 points to 1,847.47, while industrials declined 0.27% or 30.27 points to 10,931.37.

Meanwhile, services jumped 3.06% or 47.90 points to 1,611.83 and mining and oil surged 1.49% or 119.69 points to 8,122.61.

Turnover stood at P6.25 billion after some 834.29 million issues switched hands, slightly lower than Wednesday’s P6.64 billion.

Advancers outpaced decliners, 103 to 91, while 45 names were unchanged.

Net foreign selling persisted for the fourth straight session at P66.13 million, lower than the previous session’s P342.50 million.

“The main index is currently down 2.6% for the week. If we see a rally tomorrow, wherein it closes above 8,000. There might be hope for this market just yet,” AAA Equities’ Mr. Mangun said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Wall Street indices ended mixed overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.09% or 22.45 points to 26,007.07. The S&P 500 index added 0.08% or 2.21 points to 2,883.98, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.38% or 29.56 points to 7,862.82.

Asian indices finished mostly higher, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up by 0.37% or 76.79 points to 20,593.35. The Shanghai Composite jumped 0.93% or 25.87 points to 2,794.55, while the Hang Seng index rose 0.48% or 123.74 points to 26,120.77.