Local shares down 1.6% as virus spooks investors

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By Marissa Mae M. Ramos, Researcher

THE main index edged lower on Friday as investors continue to worry over the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) lost 121.12 points or 1.63% to close at 7,282.00 on Friday with the broader all shares index also dropping 38.13 points or 0.87% to 4,319.11. 

“Market continues to be in light volumes after a number of bonds and preferred share were offered past months. Also, the COVID-19 has made the volatility in the market that creates uncertainties in the investment surroundings at this time,” Diversified Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Aniceto K. Pangan said in a text message.

Manuel Antonio G. Lisbona, president of PNB Securities, Inc., said the “dramatic 10-fold spike in new cases of the COVID-19 virus in China has spooked a lot of investors.”

“Investors are becoming more concerned that the virus will cause the global economy to slow down. Declines in air travel/tourism and global manufacturing and supply chains have already been observed and investors are extrapolating these into other sectors,” Mr. Lisbona said in an email.

“Concerns are also rising that China could be understating its numbers so as not to induce panic or increase discrimination against its citizens outside their borders,” he added.

China, the center of the new coronavirus, confirmed around 15,000 new cases with a few hundred additional deaths this week after adopting a new diagnosis methodology for the COVID-19, CNBC reported on Thursday. 

Data from the World Health Organization showed that as of Feb.12, China’s death toll was at 1,114 with a total of 44,730 confirmed cases.

At home, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Fatima T. Romulo-Puyat said that the country’s tourism sector could lose up to P42.9 billion from February until April as travelers are expected to cancel scheduled flights and postpone events amid the virus scare.

At the trading floor, a total of 888.41 million issues worth P6.45 billion were exchanged on Friday, down from the previous day’s 978.23 million issues valued at P4.77 billion.

All sectoral indices ended lower. Industrials lost 95.04 points or 1.05% to 8,936.64; holding firms gave up 77.96 points or 1.09% to 7,051.97; property dropped 66.61 points or 1.66% to 3,928.65; mining and oil shed 44.21 points or 0.62% to 7,058.64; financials fell 25.12 points or 1.42% to 1,738.95; and services slipped 14.40 points or 0.99% to end the trading session at 1,440.30.

Advancers edged decliners, 100 against 82, with 44 listed names left unchanged.

Offshore investors continued to be sellers with net foreign outflows ending at P864.82 million, higher than Thursday’s P528.74 million.