THE MAIN INDEX ended in negative territory on Wednesday following news on the government’s outstanding debt and as investors booked their profits after the market’s two-day rally.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) fell 8.42 points or 0.12% to finish at 6,859.46, while the broader all shares index dropped 0.91 points or 0.02% to end at 4,143.26.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said in a mobile phone message that the market ended lower following the release of data on the government’s outstanding debt.

“Concerns over the jump of our national government’s outstanding debt and its possible repercussions to the economy weighed on (market) sentiment,” Mr. Tantiangco said.

The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) on Tuesday reported that the national government’s outstanding debt reached P9.8 trillion at the end of December on higher borrowings for the state’s pandemic response.

The figure is 26.7% higher than the P7.73 trillion seen at end-2019, and brought the Philippines’ debt-to-gross domestic product ratio to 54.5% as of end-2020 compared to 39.6% the prior year.

Timson Securities, Inc. Head of Online Trading Darren Blaine T. Pangan said the market closed lower as investors booked profits after the PSEi’s two-day winning streak.

“The market ended lower despite trading in green territory during the first few hours of the day, as investors chose to take profits after two consecutive days of rising from the 6,600 level up to the 6,800 area,” Mr. Pangan said in a mobile phone message.

AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun likewise blamed profit taking for the PSEi’s decline, adding investors remained cautious during the trading day.

“The rally may have kept selling at bay however, it has not drawn too much buying. Investors continue to take a wait-and-see attitude and monitor current economic developments,” Mr. Mangun said in an e-mail.

Majority of sectoral indices closed lower on Wednesday. Property declined 13.58 points or 0.38% to 3,500.89; mining and oil retreated 30.61 points or 0.35% to 8,635.35; financials went down 4.64 points or 0.32% to 1,425.54; and services lost 3.84 points or 0.25% to 1,499.89. Meanwhile, industrials improved 23.91 points or 0.26% to 9,064.17 and holding firms gained 10.79 points or 0.15% to 6,960.95.

Value turnover on Wednesday reached P9.58 billion with 40.57 billion issues switching hands, lower than the P10.66 billion with 56.17 billion issues logged during the previous session. Decliners edged out advancers, 110 against 106, while 44 names ended unchanged. Net foreign selling declined to P460.10 million on Wednesday from the P567.48 million in net outflows on Tuesday.

“The PSEi may continue moving sideways until the end of the week,” Mr. Mangun said.

“In the remaining days of the week, we’ll have to see if the support at 6,600 holds,” Timson Securities’ Mr. Pangan said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave