INVESTORS will be keeping an eye on the possible easing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases begin to decline, analysts said, and the market will also be taking its cue from the upcoming release of manufacturing data.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went up by 36.25 points or 0.52% to close at 6,951.53 on Friday, while the broader all shares index rose 21.14 points or 0.49% to 4,323.64.

Week on week, the PSEi gained 38.68 points from its 6,912.85 finish on Sept. 17.

“The PSEi ended the week with a small gain as the bulls tried to push the index higher despite persistently strong selling pressure,” China Bank Securities Corp. Research Associate Jason T. Escartin said in an e-mail last Friday.

“Contagion fears from China Evegrande’s possible default started the week, only to be eased by BSP’s (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) saying it has minimal impact on local banks. Global markets also appeared to have shrugged off the Federal Reserve’s more hawkish pronouncements following its policy meeting this week,” he added.

On Thursday, the BSP said the debt crisis looming over Chinese real estate giant Evergrande Group has a minimal impact on Philippine banks. BSP Deputy Director at the Supervisory Policy and Research Department Ma. Cynthia M. Sison said, “claims from counter-parties based in China and its Special Administrative Regions is minimal at 0.86% of total banking system assets.”

Over in the US, its central bank expressed intention to reduce economic support soon without giving a definite date.

Analysts said the market will be keeping watch of the country’s COVID-19 situation as infections now hit a “downtrend.”

“Investors are also expected to watch out for the government’s decision on the social restriction measures of the country after Sept. 30. Easing of restrictions may send the local market higher,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said in a Viber message on Saturday.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur D. Abalos, Jr. told DZMM TeleRadyo in an interview on Saturday that he hoped Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level 3 from a more stringent Alert Level 4 by the end of the week as COVID-19 cases begin to decline.

The Health department on Saturday logged 16,907 new COVID-19 cases, which brings the country’s total cases to 2,740,175 while active cases stood at 165,092.

OCTA Research Group Research Fellow Fredegusto Guido P. David said the seven-day average of infections in the country declined to 17,526 from 20,218 with a negative growth rate of 13%. Meanwhile, the reproduction number declined to 0.98 from last week’s 1.16.

“If the decline continues, then it may spur positive sentiment in the market,” Mr. Tantiangco said. “The BSP’s latest confidence surveys which show that consumers and businesses are optimistic for the upcoming quarter may also give a boost to sentiment [this] week.”

Mr. Tantiangco also said the market will also take cues from the upcoming IHS Markit Philippines Manufacturing PMI to be released this week.

“We may see the index continue pushing higher in the coming week, though the resistance at 7,000-7,100 continues to appear strong. In case prices push above 7,100, the next resistance to test would be 7,300. In case prices retreat after hitting the resistance area, then a pullback to 6,760 is likely,” China Bank Securities’ Mr. Escartin said. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte