By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE MAIN INDEX closed lower on Tuesday as investors waited for an announcement about what will happen to the Metro Manila lockdown after May 31.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) fell 42.36 points or 0.76% to end at 5,496.83. The broader all shares index likewise dropped 36.96 points or 1.10% to 3,313.02.

“Investors remained on the sidelines awaiting the latest update from government on how businesses in general would be conducted after May,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

Metro Manila, where a bulk of local businesses operate, is currently on a downgraded lockdown until May 31, formally called by the government as a modified enhanced community quarantine. Other parts of the country are under general community quarantine.

Mr. Limlingan noted most of Metro Manila mayors are backing the further relaxation of the lockdown in the capital. This would allow increased mobility and business activity for the region. However, the final decision is still up to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who hasn’t made an announcement as of Tuesday afternoon.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said investor sentiment was down on the dim outlook for the economy. He noted there are concerns that the Philippines is slow in contact tracing as cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) keep on rising.

With ongoing talks of easing the lockdown, investors worry how this will affect and maybe worsen the spread of COVID-19.

“This puts into question whether the Philippines, particularly its areas under the tightest quarantine measures, are really prepared for the easing of restrictions. In the end, we’re still trapped in the health or economy trade-off dilemma which in turn remains a drag to the local market, keeping investor confidence tempered,” Mr. Tantiangco said.

Further pulling the market down was the increase in net foreign outflows to P1.18 billion on Tuesday, the largest since April 16’s P2.14 billion.

Most sectoral indices closed as losers. Industrials gave up 212.68 points or 2.91% to 7,092.13; mining and oil lost 127.77 points or 2.86% to 4,337.50; financials trimmed 25.34 points or 2.29% to 1,077.16; property shed 21.01 points or 0.75% to 2,764.89; and services shaved off 2.63 points or 0.19% to 1,319.50.

The sole gaining index was holding firms, which picked up 1.38 points or 0.02% to 5,541.82.

Value turnover stood at P5.17 billion with 1.36 billion issues switching hands, improving from the last session’s P4.03 billion with 501.94 million issues.

Decliners outnumbered advancers, 156 against 37, while 35 names ended unchanged.