By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

BARGAIN HUNTERS lifted the main index at Wednesday’s close after moving sideways during the session due to sustained coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) fears.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) picked up 18.10 points or 0.28% to close at 6,285.50. The broader all shares index likewise climbed 5.92 points or 0.16% to 3,683.75.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said the higher close of the PSEi at the bell came amid last minute bargain hunting.

The index moved sideways for most part of the trading day, moving between a low of 6,227.74 and a high of 6,287.74, before closing a little lower from its peak to 6,285.5.

“The downside in today’s trading… was still brought by lingering COVID-19 worries,” Mr. Tantiangco said in a text message on Wednesday. “Investor sentiment was dampened by the intensified increase in local coronavirus cases in these past days and the WHO’s (World Health Organization’s) warning that global coronavirus related deaths could rise again.”

The Department of Health continued reporting new COVID-19 cases by the thousands on Tuesday, adding 1,540 cases to push the country’s case tally to 47,873. Of this, 34,178 cases are active, 12,386 are recoveries, and 1,309 are deaths.

“One of the primary risks to our economy is still the pandemic so developments like these weigh on the outlook,” Mr. Tantiangco said.

However, the PSEi still managed to close the session up due to bargain hunters. After two straight days of decline, prices of local shares fell enough to attract buyers into the bourse.

“Bargain hunters took the opportunity out of the decline which in turn was enough to lift the market into positive territory (on Wednesday),” Mr. Tantiangco said.

Other Asian markets were trading mixed when the local bourse closed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix indices were faring in red territory, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and China’s CSI 300 index were recording gains.

At home, more sectoral indices landed in red territory at the close of trading. Mining and oil lost 63.94 points or 1.16% to 5,409.29; industrials gave up 78.40 points or 0.99% to 7,779.87; property shed 22.68 points or 0.73% to 3,047.60; and financials trimmed 4.89 points or 0.39% to 1,237.

On the other hand, holding firms gained 78 points or 1.19% to 6,596.82 and services climbed 9.55 points or 0.66% to 1,441.94.

Value turnover increased to P8.72 billion from the P7.60 billion seen the previous day. Some 2.39 billion issues switched hands.

Decliners outpaced advancers, 106 against 82, while 44 names ended unchanged.

Wednesday’s net foreign outflows went down to P376.29 million from the P2.51 billion on Tuesday.