By Denise A. Valdez

THE MAIN INDEX marked its third day of increase yesterday amid the Philippine government’s report of slower inflation last month.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 17.51 points or 0.25% to close at 6,884.77 on Thursday. The broader all shares index also added 5.81 points or 0.14% to 4,094.87.

“The market extended its gains today as investors’ show appreciation for our latest economic figures: the slowdown in February inflation rate to 2.6% and the stable employment rate at 94.7%,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said in a text message on Thursday.

In its report yesterday, the Philippine Statistics Authority attributed the improving inflation in February to the easing of food, transport and utility prices. Employment rate in January was also steady year-on-year.

For Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan, the improvement in the local market yesterday was also driven by better investor sentiment following the US Federal Reserve’s reduction of interest rates.

“Philippine shares climbed today, warming finally to the Federal Reserve’s surprise interest rate cut and support from other central banks…,” he said in a mobile message on Thursday.

The US Federal Reserve on Tuesday announced an emergency rate cut of 50 basis points, resulting in a rally in US markets on Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices rose 4.53%, 4.22% and 3.85%, respectively.

Back home, five of six sectoral indices ended in green territory. Industrials improved 74.70 points or 0.91% to 8,229.32; mining and oil advanced 57.01 points or 0.90% to 6,384.68; financials rose 12.69 points or 0.78% to 1,628.52; holding firms gained 13.13 points or 0.19% to 6,705.66; and services picked up 0.62 point or 0.04% to 1,343.54.

The sole declining index was property, which gave up 15.18 points or 0.40% to 3,762.79.

Some 978.55 million issues valued at P6.02 billion switched hands on Thursday, increasing from the 652.14 million issues worth P6.08 billion seen on Wednesday.

Advancers outpaced decliners, 97 against 76, with 57 ending unchanged. Foreign investors snapped their nine-day selling streak yesterday to record net purchases worth P940.79 million, a reversal of the P724.48 million in net sales last Wednesday.

“The PSEi is up 1.4% for the week and unless we see a massive drop tomorrow, the main index will end the week with gains,” AAA Southeast Equities’ Mr. Mangun said on Thursday.

But for Philstocks’ Mr. Tantiangco, it might be too early to be confident on the market’s performance.

He said the net value turnover yesterday is still below last year’s average of P6.3 billion, “showing lack of conviction in trades as most investors choose to stay on the sidelines amid the present headwinds.”