STOCKS rallied on Thursday as investors went bargain hunting and after the government said it could impose targeted lockdowns instead of country- or province-wide quarantine restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went up by 48.72 points or 0.71% to close at 6,834.66 on Thursday, while the all shares index gained 16.85 points or 0.40% to 4,232.11.

“The market rallied on expectations that granular lockdowns will now be implemented that will in effect conclude the tight nationwide restrictions. This will indicate that more industries will be reopened [on] a sustainable basis,” Papa Securities Corp. Equities Strategist Manny P. Cruz said in a text message.

“With the COVID-19 virus reproduction rate on the downtrend and [expected to] fall below 1 this month as per OCTA, we may expect a further easing of restrictions going forward, thus local market rebounded on bargain hunting…,” Diversified Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Aniceto K. Pangan said in a text message.

Researchers from the OCTA Research group said in a televised briefing on Monday that the COVID-19 reproduction rate in Metro Manila may drop to less than one by Sept. 13 to 14 from 1.47 currently.

On Wednesday, the Health department logged 14,216 new COVID-19 infections. Active cases stood at 140,949.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya told a televised briefing on Wednesday that the shift to two-week granular lockdowns in high-risk areas is up “for final approval” of the government’s interagency task force for the pandemic. These lockdowns will be limited to a building, street or barangay that record rising cases, officials earlier said.

Local government officials of Antipolo and Muntinlupa have already imposed granular lockdowns in their areas to curb the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Metro Manila is under modified enhanced community quarantine until Sept. 7.

All sectoral indices posted gains on Thursday. Mining and oil surged 195.87 points or 2.10% to finish at 9,491.10; industrials went up by 90.56 points or 0.90% to 10,075.68; services climbed 15.74 points or 0.89% to 1,780.03; property gained 25.31 points or 0.83% to 3,068.07; holding firms improved by 40.16 points or 0.59% to end at 6,818.70; and financials inched up by 4.12 points or 0.28% to 1,441.67.

Value turnover dropped to P6.92 billion on Thursday with 1.52 billion issues switching hands, from the P8.82 billion with 2.02 billion issues traded on Wednesday. 

Advancers beat decliners, 110 against 86, while 58 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling more than doubled to P69.83 million on Thursday from the P30.61 million seem the previous day.

Papa Securities’ Mr. Cruz said the market is on track to test the 7,000 resistance level in the near term. — K.C.G. Valmonte