By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

Philippine shares closed lower yesterday, moving in step with global equities, due to the worsening coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation across the world.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) shed 66.21 points or 1.22% to 5,342.31 on Thursday, as the broader all shares index lost 40.33 points or 1.23% to 3,238.48.

“Local stocks sank as all regional markets kicked off the second quarter on poor macro data and concerns the coronavirus will keep the economy shut down longer than expected,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message on Thursday.

US markets closed lower on Wednesday: the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite indices fell 4.44%, 4.41% and 4.41%, respectively.

“The market went down (yesterday) as it tracked the decline of US markets overnight… Net foreign selling ballooned to P1.01 billion…as negative sentiment affected the world after (US President Donald) Trump warned that the two weeks ahead shall be ‘painful,’” Timson Securities, Inc. Trader Darren T. Pangan said in a text message.

Mr. Trump gave the comment in a news conference Wednesday, noting Americans should prepare for “hard days that lie ahead.” COVID-19 cases in US remain the biggest in the world at more than 216,700 as of yesterday. It is followed by Italy with more than 110,500 cases, Spain with more than 104,100 cases, and China with more than 82,300 cases.

Most sectoral indices at the local bourse ended in red territory on Thursday. Services gave up 45.25 points or 3.71% to 1,173.81; financials shaved off 44.57 points or 3.59% to 1,194.84; holding firms erased 92.83 points or 1.74% to 5,235.08; industrials removed 84.66 points or 1.32% to 6,327.97; and mining and oil dropped 11.22 points or 0.26% to 4,206.93.

The sole gainer was property with an increase of 85.92 points or 3.09% to 2,863.91.

Despite the lower close of the PSEi, AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun noted the market has been less volatile this week.

“We have been seeing less volatility in the last few days of trading as speculators walk away. This is also evident in the decrease of daily trading volumes compared to what we saw last week and the week before,” he said in an e-mail.

Some 384.02 million issues valued at P4.40 billion switched hands yesterday, lower from Wednesday’s 498.18 million issues worth P5.58 billion.

Advancers were outpaced by decliners, 126 against 54, while 35 names ended unchanged.

Net foreign selling however increased to P1.01 billion from the previous day’s P418.75 million.

“We may continue to see profit taking (today), being the last day of the week,” Mr. Mangun said.