By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX fell to the 7,300 level on its fourth consecutive day of decline on Thursday as investor worries on the novel coronavirus continued to drag the local market.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gave up 69.63 points or 0.93% to hit 7,392.68 yesterday. The broader all shares index also fell 32.51 points or 0.73% to 4,392.55.

“The local bourse plunged to its lowest in 13 months, down by nearly a percent due to the increasing number of coronavirus death toll, particularly in China,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Associate Claire T. Alviar said in a text message Thursday.

“The decline was along with our regional peers as investors fear the impact of 2019-nCoV on the economy,” she added, referring to the name of the new virus.

The number of deaths due to the Novel Coronavirus has grown to 170 in China, Reuters reported yesterday. Some 7,711 people in China were also infected, on top of the 104 confirmed cases in other countries: Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Macau, Australia, Malaysia, United States, France, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Canada, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Finland.

The Philippines likewise reported yesterday its first case of coronavirus found in a 38-year old woman confined in Manila. The Health department said in a briefing late afternoon that the patient is from Wuhan, China and arrived in the country on Jan. 21.

Aside from the Philippines, other Asian markets continued suffering on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix indices each lost 1.72% and 1.48% respectively, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sank 2.62%, South Korea’s Kospi index fell 1.71% and Malaysia’s Bursa Malaysia KLCI declined 0.30%.

Southeast Asian stock markets also fell on Thursday as concerns over the rapid spread of a virus from China prompted the World Health Organization to reconsider the severity of the outbreak.

At the PSE, all sectoral indices ended lower at the close of trading: holding firms by 100.30 points or 1.40% to 7,060.19; services by 17.17 points or 1.13% to 1,501.69; mining and oil by 77.28 points or 1.01% to 7,516.98; industrials by 65.04 points or 0.69% to 9,291.53; financials by 11.02 points or 0.61% to 1,786.63; and property by 8.39 points or 0.21% to 3,917.96.

Value turnover increased to P5.45 billion with 562.84 million issues switching hands from Wednesday’s P4.96-billion worth of 496 million issues.

The session ended with 123 stocks declining, 61 increasing and 51 unchanged.

Net foreign outflows grew to P513.05 million from the P350.99 million seen on Wednesday.

“In January, value turnover has slowed to 70 percent-or-so of the same periods in the last five years. We’re expecting negative sentiment to continue and further weigh on the market,” Ms. Alviar said. — with Reuters