STOCKS ended lower on Friday as investors booked profits amid surging coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections and stricter lockdown restrictions in some provinces.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) slid 239.22 points or 3.49% to end at 6,612.62 on Friday. Meanwhile, the all shares index declined 101.01 points or 2.45% to close at 4,007.33.

“The market suffered a significant sell-off and on large value turnover, on sustained foreign outflows. Investors took to the exits, as the news of surging COVID-19 infections and uncertainty over vaccine rollouts clouded recovery expectations,” PNB Securities, Inc. President Manuel Antonio G. Lisbona said in a text message.

Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said shares continued to decline as many provinces were placed under stricter restrictions due to the rising virus cases.

“In addition, investors are still assessing the growth prospects of the country after the latest GDP (gross domestic product) figures came out,” he said in a Viber message.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday that GDP shrank 9.5% in 2020, the worst contraction on record. In the fourth quarter, the economy contracted by 8.3%.

All sectoral indices ended Friday’s session with losses. Mining and oil dropped 390.16 points or 4.54% to 8,187.82; holding firms lost 282.06 points or 4.01% to 6,742.39; property gave up 105.17 points or 3.02% to 3,372.87; industrials declined 249.44 points or 2.81% to 8,627; services went down 38.73 points or 2.6% to 1,450.27; and financials decreased by 32.56 points or 2.3% to 1,378.35.

Value turnover stood at P11.8 billion with 41.76 billion issues switching hands, lower than the previous session’s P8.80 billion with 56.22 billion issues.

Decliners beat advancers, 133 to 91, while 44 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling ballooned to P3.13 billion on Friday from the P1.31 billion seen in the previous trading day.

“Tuesday’s break of the 7,000 psychological support level and today’s decline, if sustained, could see the market testing 6,400 to 6,500,” Mr. Lisbona said on Friday. — A.Y. Yang