By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

LOCAL SHARES plunged on Monday as investors continue to assess the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index lost 458.57 points or 7.91% to 5,335.37 on Monday. The broader all shares index likewise dropped 221.85 points or 6.35% to 3,271.79.

“Market has been sent into turmoil by COVID-19, same with the rest of the world,” First Metro Investment Corp. Vice-President Cristina S. Ulang said in a text message. “The volatility will subside and a recovery is possible only if and when the infection spread dissipates.”

As Metro Manila started its first working day under community quarantine yesterday, listed firms one-by-one disclosed the impact of limited operations to their businesses. This resulted in almost all PSEi member stocks hitting their 52-week lows.

The PSE also kicked off yesterday its reduced trading hours starting yesterday which will last until April 14. The local market will open at 9 a.m. and close at 1 p.m.

“With the number of cases rising, the country has added measures for more social distancing. This however would imply that growth would be cut as establishments would realize less business as a result,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message.

“Furthermore, stock futures plunged Sunday night even after the Federal Reserve embarked on a massive monetary stimulus campaign… [M]any investors said they would ultimately want to see coronavirus cases peaking and falling in the US before it was safe to take on risk and buy equities again,” he added.

All sectoral indices at the local bourse closed in red territory yesterday. Holding firms lost 568.49 points or 10.02% to 5,105.16; financials dropped 126.47 points or 8.93% to 1,289.19; property trimmed 232.35 points or 7.78% to 2,753.05; mining and oil shaved off 204.34 points or 4.32% to 4,523.47; industrials fell 176.21 points or 2.49% to 6,894.90; and services slipped 26.14 points or 2.20% to 1,161.47.

Some 618.19 million issues valued at P6.44 billion switched hands on Monday, down from last Friday’s 950.23 million issues worth P10.72 billion.

Declining stocks outnumbered those that gained, 145 against 46, while 40 names ended unchanged.

Foreign outflows were trimmed to a net P741.72 million from last session’s net selling worth P1.64 billion.

During these times, Ms. Ulang said it is best to have a diversified portfolio and not chase market rallies.

“If you’re light in equities, load up on high quality, high-paying dividend stock. Be selective. Secure some accrual income from government and corporate debts,” she said.