By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX retreated below the 6,100 level on Wednesday as investors were worried over a possible tightening of quarantine measures in the country.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) erased 156.30 points or 2.53% to close at 6,016.51 on Wednesday. The broader all shares index shaved off 81.49 points or 2.24% to end at 3,544.36.

“The PSEi collapsed as investors believe stricter quarantine restrictions will be reimposed because of surging coronavirus cases,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail.

The local tally of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases reached 57,545 as of Tuesday, where 360 of the 634 new cases came from Metro Manila. Total cases in the capital have now gone up to 28,276 — nearly triple Central Visayas’ 10,895 cases — with 7,303 of these reported within the last two weeks.

This rising number is raising worries that quarantine measures in Metro Manila might be tightened anew, thus limiting business operations again and erasing hopes of a strong rebound in the second half.

Mr. Mangun said the warning of the Labor department that more workers are getting displaced also pushed investor sentiment down. Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said last week some 400,000 overseas Filipino workers have been affected by the pandemic.

For Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco, the PSEi’s performance is attributable to increasing tensions between the United States and China.

“The geopolitical risks which may come from the souring relations between the two could weigh on the already pandemic stricken global economy,” he said in a mobile message.

Mr. Tantiangco added investors chose to pocket gains ahead of the government’s decision on new quarantine measures.

All sectoral indices closed with losses. Industrials gave up 229.33 points or 3.03% to 7,321.66; holding firms lost 182.22 points or 2.8% to 6,304.52; services dropped 35.25 points or 2.46% to 1,393.98; mining and oil slid 114.39 points or 2.16% to 5,163.33; financials shed 24.26 points or 2.02% to 1,174.45; and property fell 53.34 points or 1.77% to 2,960.88 at the end of session.

Some 2.66 billion issues valued at P7.29 billion switched hands, down from the previous session’s 5.80 billion issues worth P5.13 billion.

Decliners beat advancers, 166 against 48, while 32 names ended unchanged.

Net foreign selling jumped to P1.65 billion from the P60.12 million seen the previous day.

Overseas, several markets recorded gains due to positive news on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. In Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices closed 2.13%, 1.34% and 0.94% up on Tuesday.