By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

LOCAL SHARES continued to surge on Thursday as the main index hit the 6,500 mark, marking the market’s best finish since pre-lockdown days.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) climbed 271.84 points or 4.35% to end Thursday’s session at 6,517.49. The broader all shares index rose 126.72 points or 3.46% to 3,785.03.

This is the PSEi’s seventh straight day of increase and its best close since it hit 6,770.38 on March 6.

“Philippine stocks finished higher Thursday, adding to several sessions of gains as economic data pointed to less severe damage from the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic than feared, leaving major equity benchmarks at their loftiest levels since early March,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message.

After US-based human resource group ADP, LLC reported better than expected job cuts in May, Mr. Limlingan said investors have started getting calmer about the pandemic.

US markets closed with gains on Wednesday: the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices picked up 2.05%, 1.36% and 0.78%, respectively.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Associate Piper Chaucer E. Tan also said via text that Thursday’s rise mirrored the performance of US equities.

“The (local) market has been superb…and I think this is brought by the rally coming from US spilling over here,” Mr. Tan said.

While COVID-19 is still an unsolved problem and there is no vaccine yet, governments have started easing lockdowns and investors took it as an added sign of recovery.

“On our shores, this is a positive response on the partial opening of the economy caused by (the relaxed lockdown) in National Capital Region,” Mr. Tan said.

“I’m getting cautious at this and I think this is prone to profit taking, and valuations and geopolitical tensions here in the Philippines (Anti-Terror Bill) and series of protests in US (George Floyd) is a similar scenario before the COVID-19 cases spiked in late February,” he said. “At some point, it (the market) will correct (because of) these issues plus the COVID-19 vaccine, which some say may take a year or two to make.”

All sectoral indices at the PSE ended Thursday’s session higher: financials by 75.01 points or 5.92% to 1,341.11; holding firms by 343.97 points or 5.42% to 6,686.22; property by 89.10 points or 2.78% to 3,286.41; services by 38.61 points or 2.78% to 1,425.10; mining and oil by 124.56 points or 2.72% to 4,688.40; and industrials by 119.23 points or 1.54% to 7,835.01.

Value turnover jumped to P11.52 billion from P8.25 billion the previous day, as some 2.20 billion issues switched hands. Foreigners recorded net purchases of P1.37 billion on Thursday from a net selling of P329.35 million on Wednesday. Advancers beat decliners, 132 against 65, while 42 names ended unchanged.