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Investors cautious as earnings reports trickle in

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FILE photo of the Philippine Stock Exchange headquarters in Taguig City. Photo taken on Feb. 19, 2018. — PHOTO BY SANTIAGO JOSE J. ARNAIZ

THE PHILIPPINE Stock Exchange index (PSEi) began the week lower for the second straight trading day, with investors staying cautious as fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings reports begin to trickle in and amid nagging uncertainty in the trade row between the world’s two biggest economies.

PSEi lost 9.35 points or 0.11% to end Monday at 8,061.54, while the all-shares index gave up 3.84 points or 0.07% to finish at 4,892.48.

“Philippine shares quietly traded lower as investors monitored the Sino-US trade talks continuing in Beijing and the US government shutdown… nearing,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message on Monday when asked for his assessment.

Jervin S. de Celis, trader at Timson Securities, Inc., noted that US-China trade talks will likely be top-of-mind in the market until the March 1 deadline for a deal, saying: “I think investors may likely stay cautious this week as doubts on the trade talks creeps in back to the market.”

REPOSITIONING PORTFOLIOS
Noting that much of the market was trading with gains by noon — with the six sectoral indices equally divided between those that increased and those that were losing — Mr. De Celis said: “Investors are probably repositioning ahead of the earnings report of several blue-chip companies that will release their FS in the next coming days.”

SM Prime Holdings, Inc. on Monday reported that consolidated net income grew 17% to P32.2 billion last year from P27.6 billion in 2017, with net income increasing by 16% to P8.7 billion in last year’s fourth quarter alone from P7.5 billion in 2017’s final three months. Shares of the property developer increased by 1.68% to end P39.30 apiece.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 and TOPIX indices were down 2.01% and 1.89%, respectively.

Other major Asian markets, however, gained with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, Shanghai Composite and South Korea’s KOSPI going up 0.71%, 1.36%, and 0.17%, respectively.

FOREIGNERS STILL BUYING
Only two of the six sectoral indices back home ended the day with gains: holding firms which increased by 9.54 points or 0.11% to finish 8,042.54 and property which edged up by 34.25 points or 0.85% to close at 4,032.10.

The rest dropped: mining and oil by 131.29 points or 1.5% to 8,608.33, services by 17.23 points or 1.06% to 1,602.11, financials by 14.32 points or 0.77% to 1,833.07 and industrials by 59.77 points or 0.51% to 11,618.40.

Stocks that declined narrowly outnumbered those that gained 108 to 105, while 36 others ended flat.

Monday saw thinner trades of 3.37 billion shares worth P6 billion, compared to the 3.17 billion worth P7.81 billion recorded on Friday last week.

Net foreign buying persisted, but down 69.9% to P82.14 million from Friday’s 272.66 million. — Janina C. Lim