By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX plunged to the 6,900 level yesterday as Philippine shares continued spiralling on sustained fears from the worsening coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) sank to 6,909.84 on Wednesday, down 277.60 points or 3.86% from the previous session. The all shares index likewise slumped 136.05 points or 3.19% to 4,129.37.

Yesterday’s finish was the lowest for the PSEi in more than a year, following its 6,843.83 close last Nov. 13, 2018. When it hit the 6,800 level that time, it was 10 months after it closed at an all-time high of 9,058.62 last Jan. 29, 2018.

“The PSEi was Asia’s worst performer today after investors rushed the exits with double the force, as the market remained closed for the holiday yesterday,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail on Wednesday.

He added it was the biggest daily loss since 2013 as it ended the day down 3.86%.

Diversified Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Aniceto K. Pangan said on Wednesday that the PSEi’s decline was still largely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with the virus already spreading to countries other than China and raising concerns on global growth.

“The uncertainties of the effects of the spread of the virus is creating fear among investors. The spread is indicative that it could hardly be contained and possible lockdown in other nations will definitely affect their economy,” he added.

“Philippine shares tumbled after… companies indicated earnings would be affected from the spread of the virus,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message. “More cases were reported in Korea, Italy, and Iran… [T]he (World Health Organization) commented that rest of the world is not yet ready for the spread.”

All sectoral indices bled yesterday. Industrials dropped 389.36 points or 4.42% to 8,416.22; property erased 154.08 points or 4% to 3,696.81; services shed 55.47 points or 3.89% to 1,370.28; holding firms trimmed 264.59 points or 3.76% to 6,761.39; financials fell 44.19 points or 2.6% to 1,649.56; and mining and oil declined 162.09 points or 2.33% to 6,770.32.

Some 1.35 billion issues valued at P10.06 billion switched hands yesterday, lower than Monday’s 1.42 billion issues worth P4.64 billion.

Names that fell stood at 184, while those that advanced totalled 27. Those that closed unchanged totaled 30.

Net foreign selling surged to P3.08 billion yesterday from P877.66 million on Monday.

“There is a lot of uncertainty right now and the best option is to remain on the sidelines and wait out the storm,” AAA Southeast Equities’ Mr. Mangun said.