LOCAL SHARES climbed further on Wednesday on last-minute bargain hunting as optimism over the start of the government’s vaccination program continued to lift the market.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) inched up by 23.22 points or 0.33% to close at 6,942.76 on Wednesday, while the all shares index increased 6.84 points or 0.16% to 4,186.76.

“With [the] majority of the regional markets on the uptrend as US bond yields stabilize and [the] upcoming US stimulus, [the Philippine] market followed suit despite the profit taking through most of the session,” Diversified Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Aniceto K. Pangan said in a text message.

AB Capital Securities, Inc. Junior Equity Analyst Lance U. Soledad noted that the market shifted between gains and losses throughout yesterday’s session.

“The market fluctuated between gains and losses as vaccine rollout optimism [waned],” Mr. Soledad said in a Viber message.

“The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is providing positive sentiment since the government is now considering shifting the entire Philippines into MGCQ (modified general community quarantine),” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Associate Claire T. Alviar said in a Viber message.

“They are also watching the full-year 2020 earnings result of the companies,” Ms. Alviar added.

“Briefing of earnings released by most listed companies manifested marked improvements in their bottom line from [the] fourth quarter as compared to [their] third quarter last year benefitting from the gradual reopening of the economy,” Diversified Securities’ Mr. Pangan said.

The Philippines kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination program on Monday, with health workers the first to be inoculated in a delayed campaign as the country tries to secure supplies to address one of Asia’s most stubborn coronavirus epidemics, Reuters reported.

Majority of sectoral indices closed in the red on Wednesday except for holding firms, which gained 51.65 points or 0.72% to finish at 7,166.25; and financials, which rose by 10.17 points or 0.69% to end at 1,479.77.

Meanwhile, mining and oil dropped by 70.63 points or 0.75% to 9,259.30; services gave up 4.73 points or 0.32% to close at 1,450.88; industrials declined by 19.19 points or 0.21% to 8,816.84; and property lost 5.3 points or 0.15% to finish at 3,522.96.

Value turnover soared to P34.09 billion on Wednesday with 221.53 billion shares switching hands, from the P9.89 billion with 126.72 billion shares seen on Tuesday.

Decliners outnumbered advancers, 125 versus 101, while 40 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling went up to P350.57 million on Wednesday from P336.95 million on Tuesday.

“We still expect the index to retest the 7,000 resistance as vaccine doses continue to arrive in the country, which we believe will be the key to sustain sideways trading with an upward bias,” AB Capital Securities’ Mr. Soledad said. — K.C.G. Valmonte