From the Front Page: New year stock market forecasts

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The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index fell 12.76 percent year-on-year in 2018, leading to an 8.17 percent drop in total market capitalization to P16.15 trillion. Forecasts are split on whether or not 2019 will continue this downward turn, with more optimistic analysts claiming this year may turn out “slightly better” than the last. Hopefully election-related spending in the upcoming midterms can help build momentum towards more economic growth.

The BIR is training its crosshairs on the local beverage industry after the Finance Department noted a P10-billion shortfall in excise tax collected over the first 10 months of 2018. While representatives of the Beverage Industry Association of the Philippines insist that members’ tax declarations have been truthful, Finance Undersecretary Chua is calling out firms that may be knowingly paying the wrong tax rates.

Philippine manufacturing continues to trail Vietnam in the ASEAN region, as local factory activity slowed once again in December. Experts point to dwindling remittances from FIlipino workers abroad and heightened inflation as the reasons behind slow factory business expansion. Overall, however, business optimism in the local manufacturing sector is high, thanks to solid growth in new orders, output, and job numbers — a strong end to 2018.