THE MAIN INDEX ended flat on the first day of this week’s trading amid lack of clear leads and persistently low volumes.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) inched up 0.07% or 5.90 points to close at 7,891.13 on Monday, while the broader all-shares index lost 0.02% or 1.29 points to 4,753.75.

Timson Securities, Inc. Trader Jervin S. de Celis said trading was slow in the morning and afternoon sessions until last-minute buying of shares of Ayala Corp. and SM Investments Corp. helped the market pick up. Ayala and SM Investments closed 0.53% and 0.20% higher, respectively. “This flat performance may be implying that investors are staying cautious in the absence of fresh local catalysts despite the overseas news about trade wars,” he said in a mobile phone message.

Research Associate Piper Chaucer E. Tan of Philstocks Financial, Inc. said lackluster trading was due to investors’ anticipation of third-quarter earnings and minimal impact of foreign markets. “The market today has been muted… due to investors’ sentiments… waiting for the earnings…” Mr. Tan said via text. “Overseas markets are not much of an effect right now since US markets are focused on earnings as well.”

Reuters reported that negative news about Johnson & Johnson and Boeing, as well as China’s slowing economy weighed on Wall Street on Friday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.95%, 0.39% and 0.83%, respectively.

Most major Asian markets gained yesterday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix indices adding 0.25% and 0.41%, respectively, while India’s S&P BSE Sensex index, South Korea’s KOSPI and Singapore’s Straits Times index climbed 0.63%, 0.20% and 0.96%, respectively. Shanghai SE Composite, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended flat at 0.05% and 0.02%, respectively.

At the PSE, the six sectoral indices were equally divided between those that gained and those that lost. Those that gained consisted of industrials that went up by 47.1 points or 0.44% to 10,690.11, financials that added 15.55 points or 0.84% to 1,856.81 and services which increased by 6.68 points or 0.43% to 1,536.93. Those that fell were mining and oil by 35.93 points or 0.4% to 8,871.42, property by 32.66 points or 0.78% to 4,144.59 and holding firms by 5.28 points or 0.06% to 7,671.61.

Trading volume on Monday reached 403.794 million shares worth P3.35 billion, compared to last Friday’s 830.78 million shares worth P5.47 billion.

“Drastically low volume of only P3 billion (ex-blocks) plagued the PSEi once again today on a lack of catalysts,” Papa Securities Corp. Sales Associate Gabriel Jose F. Perez said in an e-mail, putting resistance level at 7,900-8,000 until there are compelling developments in the US market and local third-quarter earnings.

Mr. De Celis of Timson Securities expects trading volume to pick up pace next month “in anticipation of the 3Q GDP (gross domestic product) data as well as the MSCI rebalancing.”

More shares declined than improved, 98 to 86, while 59 names closed flat. Monday saw the second trading day of net foreign selling at P2.97 million from Friday’s P244.46 million. — Denise A. Valdez