PSEi barely moves as investors sit on sidelines ahead of BSP, Fed policy meetings

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Shares ended flat on Monday, March 19, as investors chose to stay on the sidelines ahead of policy meetings by the local central bank and the United States’ Federal Reserve.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index was down 0.03% or 2.61 points to finish at 8,235.54, paring down early day losses that saw it hit a low of 8,169. The broader all-shares index meanwhile dropped 0.68% or 33.70 points to 4,948.80.

“Philippine stocks traded rather flat to start the week as a series of central bank meetings will keep investors on the sidelines. Also US stocks closed just slightly higher on Friday so there was little impetus to bargain hunt,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

Wall Street recorded modest gains last Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average adding 0.29% or 72.85 points to 24,946.51. The S&P 500 gained 0.17% or 4.68 points to 2,752.01, while the Nasdaq Composite Index was unchanged at 7,481.99.

Asian indices were mixed on Monday, as investors awaited the results of the United States Federal Reserve Open Market Committee policy meeting on March 20 to 21.

Locally, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is also set to conduct its policy meeting on March 22.

Four sectors moved to negative territory, with the mining and oil sub-index plunging 4.63% or 519.99 points to 10,702.84. Industrial shed 1.02% or 118.70 points to 11,500.72; services dipped 0.54% or 9.36 points to 1,719.87; while property edged lower by 0.12% or 4.48 points to 3,708.55.

On the other hand, financials increased 0.5% or 10.73 points to 2,152.73, while holding firms were mostly flat, up 0.06% or 4.79 points to 8,208.06.

“Investors kept to cash even if it meant selling shares at more than 6% today,” Mr. Limlingan said. — Arra B. Francia