THE MAIN INDEX dropped to the 7,600 level on Wednesday as investors stayed on the sidelines in anticipation of the trade talks between United States and China.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) shed 75.47 points or 0.97% to close at 7,681.25 yesterday. The broader all shares index likewise lost 32.4 points or 0.69% to end at 4,655.99.

“Local stocks fell once again today on very light trading activity, despite reassurances on monetary policy by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, after earlier reports on the progress of US-China trade relations disappointed investors,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message on Wednesday.

Total volume was at 321.84 million yesterday with a total value of P4.8 billion, down from P6.95 billion last Tuesday.

Papa Securities Corp. Sales Associate Gabriel Jose F. Perez echoed this sentiment, saying in an e-mail: “It seems like the market’s still waiting on the results of the upcoming US and China trade talks which would determine much of the movement in the immediate term.”

Eagle Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail that investors are “pessimistic” with the developments and “most Asian markets followed suit including here at the PSE.”

Most Southeast Asian stock markets dropped on Wednesday, as tensions between the United States and China heightened hours ahead of high-level negotiations, denting hopes of a trade deal.

Washington imposed visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials over abuses of Muslim minorities. The move came only hours after the Trump administration widened its trade blacklist to include some of China’s top artificial intelligence startups.

High-level talks between the world’s top two economies on trade are due to resume on Thursday. The negotiations, which are the global markets’ most important catalyst for months, have weighed on investor sentiment.

Singapore shares were on track to snap two sessions of gains, dragged by industrial and financial sectors.

Bucking the sombre mood, Vietnam index traded marginally higher.

Back home, all sector indices tallied declines at the end of trading. Holding firms fell 99.9 points or 1.3% to 7,539.14; services went down 14.49 points or 0.95% to 1,498.96; and mining and oil dropped 84.65 points or 0.92% to 9,073.02.

Industrials went down 71.51 points or 0.67% to 10,523.33; financials dropped 11.58 points or 0.64% to 1,780.83; and property slid 24.49 points or 0.6% to 4,019.42.

Decliners edged up advancers, 114 to 60, while 58 names were unchanged.

Foreigners turned net sellers on Wednesday, with net outflows totalling P1.87 billion, a reversal of the net purchases worth P5.21 million recorded on Tuesday. — Denise A. Valdez with Reuters