By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE LOCAL bellwether posted losses on Monday as investors waited for a stronger catalyst other than the growing number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) shed 24.81 points or 0.4% to close at 6,172.57, while the broader all shares index trimmed 18.85 points or 0.51% to end at 3,633.75.

“The market skipped out on most of the region’s upward move today, as investors chose to stay on the sidelines in advance of the second-quarter earnings reports scheduled to come out in the coming weeks,” Timson Securities, Inc. Trader Darren T. Pangan said in a text message on Monday.

Most Asian markets were posting gains when the PSE ended trading on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix indices closed 2.22% and 2.46% higher, respectively, and South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 1.67%.

“Here at the PSE, the main index remains a laggard and continues to move in the opposite direction. A spike in COVID-19 fatalities over the weekend has stomped out any optimism that investors might have,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail.

The Department of Health has been reporting thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily for the past 10 days. Total confirmed cases ballooned to 56,259 as of Sunday, while the death toll reached 1,534, based on data reported early Monday. A total of 38,679 are active COVID-19 cases.

Mr. Mangun said the growing number of cases will continue worrying investors until the situation in Cebu City improves. The urbanized area in the Visayas is the only region in the Philippines still under a strict lockdown because of its 6,113 cases — the highest in a single city.

Sectoral indices were divided equally among gainers and losers at the end of Monday’s trading. Mining and oil rose 67.43 points or 1.26% to 5,401.49; services increased 8.35 points or 0.58% to 1,443.82; and industrials climbed 28.35 points or 0.37% to 7,689.89.

On the other hand, financials dropped 12.05 points or 0.98% to 1,209.69; property fell 23.98 points or 0.8% to 2,957.21; and holding firms slipped 46.06 points or 0.7% to 6,483.20 at the end of session.

Value turnover stood at P4.64 billion with 907.56 million issues switching hands, down from Friday’s value turnover of P5.17 billion with 2.26 billion issues.

Decliners outnumbered advancers, 136 against 69, while 34 names ended unchanged at the session’s close.

Net foreign selling went down to P849.32 million on Monday from P1.41 billion in the previous session.

“The PSEi continues to stay above the 6,100 support area, and we may have to see if this holds this week,” Mr. Pangan said.