THE MAIN INDEX closed lower on Thursday, extending its decline to a fifth day, as investors remained cautious over the deployment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines and the country’s economic outlook.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) fell 3.01 points or 0.04% to end at 7,140.29 yesterday, while the all shares index dropped 19.14 points or 0.44% to finish at 4,280.98.

Timson Securities, Inc. Head of Online Trading Darren Blaine T. Pangan said in a mobile phone message that the market ended lower as investors continue to monitor the country’s progress on COVID-19 vaccine approval and deployment.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo confirmed on Thursday that India’s Bharat Biotech passed an application for the emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines, Reuters reported.

Bharat Biotech, together with the Indian Council of Medical Research, developed COVAXIN and is the fourth vaccine maker to apply for emergency use in the country, joining AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Research Institute, and Sinovac Biotech.

AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said the market ended lower as investors remained cautious about prospects for the economy’s recovery.

“There was increased selling pressure at the open, which lasted throughout the session. Last minute buying allowed it to recover some of its losses to end flat,” Mr. Mangun said in an e-mail.

“The trend remains the same for the PSEi as sentiment remains cautious. This trend will continue until investors see clearer signs that the economy continues to recover,” he added.

Majority of the sectoral indices at the PSE closed lower on Thursday. Mining and oil retreated by 153.19 points or 1.62% to 9,250.33; industrials went down 67.77 points or 0.73% to 9,168.27; services shrank 5.33 points or 0.34% to 1,555.04; and holding firms lost 3.31 points or 0.04% to close yesterday’s session at 7,322.43.

Meanwhile, financials improved 4.38 points or 0.29% to 1,469.56 and property gained 9.4 points or 0.26% to end the day 3,626.60.

Decliners outnumbered advancers, 169 against 66, while 39 names ended unchanged yesterday.

Value turnover on Thursday reached P12.51 billion with 102.66 billion issues switching hands, lower than the P13.10 billion with 121.68 billion issues during the previous trading day.

Net foreign selling amounted to P995.96 million yesterday, higher than the net P688.39 million that left the market on Wednesday.

“[Today] being the last day of the week, 7,000 remains the immediate support, while 7,300 may be considered the nearest resistance area,” Timson Securities’ Mr. Pangan said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave with Reuters