By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX edged higher on Tuesday as bargain hunters gave the market a lift before the session’s close.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) added 8.54 points or 0.11% to 7,439.40 on Tuesday, while the broader all shares index gained 6.84 points or 0.15% to 4,390.05.

“The PSEi traded in the green and red territory, ending the day slightly higher by 0.11% amid last-minute bargain hunting…,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Associate Claire T. Alviar said in a text message yesterday.

However, she noted most investors still opted to stay on the sidelines due to sustained worries over the mounting cases of coronavirus infection across the globe.

“This is evident on weak value turnover of P4.48 billion with most trades in the last minute… Most investors chose to stay liquid as they continue to assess the impact of the virus on the economy and in the market as well,” Ms. Alviar said.

Some 1.30 billion issues worth P4.48 billion switched hands on Tuesday, down from last session’s 1.67 billion issues valued at P8.68 billion.

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus has exceeded 1,000 people on Monday, global news sites reported yesterday, citing data from the Chinese government. Confirmed cases worldwide has also reached more than 43,000 people as of Tuesday morning.

In the Philippines, confirmed cases remained at three persons as of Tuesday, with 196 cases resulting negative from the virus and 183 still pending test results.

AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said the epidemic may keep affecting investor sentiment in the coming days.

“We may see (the PSEi) go lower toward the 7,200 support level in the coming days as investors assess the situation. The general investor sentiment remains anxious as investors anticipate the effects of the disease on our economy,” Mr. Mangun said in an e-mail.

All but one of the sectoral indices closed higher on Tuesday. Mining and oil rose 84.41 points or 1.18% to 7,215.93; property climbed 12.44 points or 0.30% to 4,054.76; financials increased 5.07 points or 0.28% to 1,758.94; industrials gained 21.89 points or 0.23% to 9,217.69; and holding firms inched up 3.48 points or 0.04% to close Tuesday’s session at 7,112.99.

Services was the only declining sub-sector after losing 7.76 points or 0.52% to 1,477.51.

More advancers were tallied on Tuesday at 91 names, while decliners totaled 89. Meanwhile, those that closed unchanged were at 55.

Foreign investors turned net sellers again on Tuesday as net foreign outflows stood at P80.91 million yesterday from Monday’s net buying of P2.05 billion.