By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX finished higher on Monday despite trading sideways for most of the session as investors remained cautious ahead of the release of economic data.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) firmed up 0.36% or 28.74 points to 7,897.02. The broader all-shares index likewise gained 0.16% or 8.04 points to 4,864.39.

“The PSEi continues to move sideways as the market is still waiting on economic data (gross domestic product, interest rates, and inflation) from the government. The announcement is scheduled this May 2019,” Unicapital Securities, Inc. Technical Analyst Jeff See said in a text message.

“The index is ranging between 8,200 and 7,600. Coincidentally, companies will also be releasing their first quarter 2019 earnings by May,” Mr. See added.

Papa Securities Corp. Sales Associate Gabriel Jose F. Perez noted how the PSEi showed another dull performance.

“It’s still too soon to tell if the market will be more active [on Tuesday]. Potential month-end window dressing could be tempered by the upcoming holiday on Wednesday,” Mr. Perez said in an e-mail.

Investors overseas had been pricing in positive results of the US GDP for the first quarter. The US reported that the economy grew by 3.2% year on year during the first quarter, way beyond the 2.3% market estimate. This also showed the fastest growth since 2013’s 3%.

Last Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 0.31% or 81.25 points to 26,543.33. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.47% or 13.71 points to 2,939.88, while the Nasdaq Composite index added 0.34% or 27.72 points to 8,146.40.

Asian markets on the other hand ended mixed as investors also stayed cautious ahead of another round of trade war talks between the US and China. Japan’s Nikkei 225 retreated 0.22% or 48.85 points to 22,258.73. The Hang Seng index advanced 0.96% or 284.48 points to 29,889.49, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.77% or 23.90 points to 3,062.50.

Back home, sectoral indices were equally split between losers and advancers. Holding firms led those in positive territory, jumping 0.88% or 66.79 points to 7,602.45. Industrials rose 0.66% or 76.28 points to 11,473.59, while financials eked out a gain of 0.16 point to 1,743.95.

Meanwhile, mining and oil slumped 0.5% or 39.16 points to 7,761.18. Property fell 0.2% or 8.89 points to 4,283.43, while services slipped 0.15% or 2.47 points to 1,583.26.

Turnover remained thin at P5.81 billion after some 1.06 billion issues switched hands, although slightly higher than the previous session’s P5.72 billion.

Decliners outpaced advancers, 97 to 89, while 52 names were unchanged.

Foreigners were net sellers for the second straight session with P42.91 million, narrower from Friday’s P249.78-million net outflow.