PHILIPPINE shares closed in the green on Monday as investors went bargain hunting after posting days of losses, despite the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal due to the surging number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) increased by 52.06 points or 0.8% to 6,495.15, while the broader all shares index rose by 23.17 points or 0.59% to close at 3,947.46.

“The local market snapped its two-day [loss] streak despite the government’s decision to extend ECQ in the Greater Manila Area amid bargain hunting,” AB Capital Securities, Inc. Junior Equity Analyst Lance U. Soledad said in a Viber message.

AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John J. Mangun said investors “gave the market the benefit of the doubt.”

“Most were expecting some panic selling and were bearish going into the new trading week. Trading volumes declined further, a sign that most investors are on the sideline due to the cautious sentiment,” Mr. Mangun said via e-mail.

“The government’s intent to allow the private sector to purchase and administer vaccines with minimal limitations, as well as the release of P23 billion worth of financial assistance to those under tighter restrictions, may have improved the sentiment,” Mr. Mangun added.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte gave the private sector the go signal last week to import “at will” their own COVID-19 vaccines to fast-track the reopening of the economy. This will be done through a tripartite agreement, which includes the company, the government, and the vaccine manufacturer.

Financial aid will also be given to nearly 23 million beneficiaries living within the NCR Plus bubble, which will be financed through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Majority of the PSE’s sectoral indices posted gains on Monday, except for property, which lost 9.37 points or 0.29% to 3,202.55.

Meanwhile, holding firms improved by 98.91 points or 1.51% to 6,623.72; industrials gained 112.36 points or 1.3% to finish at 8,722.05; services went up by 11.66 points or 0.82% to 1,426.25; financials increased by 7.36 points or 0.53% to close at 1,381.19; mining and oil 8.03 points or 0.09% to 8,484.96.

Value turnover went down to P5.36 billion on Monday with 1.85 billion shares switching hands from the P6.5 billion with 2.04 billion issues traded on Wednesday.

Advancers outperformed decliners, 117 against 85, while 48 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling declined to P267.25 million on Monday from the P1.7 billion seen in the previous trading day.

“Investors will be watching CPI (consumer price index) and inflation data that will be released tomorrow for leads. Recall that last month’s [inflation data] print was 4.7%, a level not seen since January 2019,” Manuel Antonio G. Lisbona, president of PNB Securities, Inc., said in a text message.

“Higher inflation rates may prompt authorities [to] raise policy rates to address rising inflation and this action will negatively affect the market,” he added.

“We still expect the market to trade with a downward bias given lack of positive catalysts,” AB Capital Securities’ Mr. Soledad said.

Mr. Soledad expects the market to finish between 6,200 to 6,600. Meanwhile, Mr. Lisbona said the 6,430 to 6,440 area “seems to be holding as a support area for the short term.” — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte