STOCKS fell on Wednesday as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of the Lenten break.

The main index lost 0.83% or 67.20 points to close at 7,979.83, slumping back below the 8,000 level after a temporary recovery on Tuesday.

The broader all-shares index also gave up 0.28% or 13.90 points to 4,840.56.

“Today the market went down…on account of slower trading activity. The expected window dressing for this last day of the quarter was offset by investors looking to take profit,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message on Wednesday.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) also tracked global markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 1.42% to 23,857.71 overnight. The S&P 500 index also dipped 1.73% to 2,612.62, while the Nasdaq Composite index plunged 2.93% to 7,008.81.

Taking their cue from Wall Street’s decline, most Asian indices likewise edged lower on Wednesday.

Sectoral indices ended mixed, with four in positive territory and the rest in the red. Industrials recorded a 0.33% increase or 37.88 points to 11,429.65. Financials gained 0.18% or 3.91 points to 2,089.67; services added 0.14% or 2.47 points to 1,671.82; while mining and oil barely moved with a 0.01% uptick or 1.31 points to 10,886.93.

Holding firms shed 1.66% or 133.02 points to 7,839.09, while property tumbled 0.70% or 25.87 points to 3,646.85.

The market saw some 1.71 billion issues changed hands for a value turnover of P7.82 billion, higher than the previous session’s P6.55 billion.

Foreign investors chose to sell their shareholdings, as net foreign outflows rose to P1.12 billion from P712.85 million in the previous session. Advancers beat decliners, 113 to 83, while 54 issues closed flat.

The 20 most actively traded stocks of the day saw 10 decliners, seven advancers, and three that were unchanged. Leading losers was SM Investments Corp. with a 3.27% loss to P917 each, followed by Manila Electric Co. with a 3.05% decline to P318 apiece.

On the other hand, D&L Industries, Inc. gained the most, up 2.12% to P11.56 each, followed by Globe Telecom, Inc. which rose 2.08% to P1,622 each.

“Looking at technical indicators, and assuming no other significant macroeconomic events happen during the holidays, the index might see a continuation of its downtrend. Support levels are maintained at 7,850.00,” Mr. Limlingan said.

COL Financial Group, Inc. also noted that rallies may be temporary, warning investors to be “ready for choppiness as prices make their way closer to short-term resistance.” — Arra B. Francia