LOCAL SHARES finished higher on Tuesday as data showing slightly slower inflation in March drove up confidence among investors amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) advanced 79.20 points or 1.42% to close at 5,650.01 on Tuesday, while the broader all shares index gained 32.30 points or 0.96% to 3,393.05.

“Philippine shares climbed once more, as inflation remained benign, and as the number of new coronavirus cases in the US appeared to slow down,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported a slight slowdown in inflation last month to 2.5% from 2.6% in February. This also eased from the 3.3% recorded in March last year.

The softening is due to the drop in oil prices globally, the price freeze on basic necessities and nearly zero price increase in utilities, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Associate Claire T. Alviar said the lower inflation rate gave investors hope that consumption will strengthen during this time, particularly of consumer staples, as the government also announced on Tuesday the extension of the Luzon-wide lockdown until end of April.

The Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of handling the COVID-19 crisis announced Tuesday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved its recommendation to extend the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon until April 30.

“Aside from that, the market joined most regional peers in the green as hopes for the slowdown of COVID-19 pandemic have increased, together with different fiscal stimulus packages to cushion the impact of the virus,” Ms. Alviar said.

Records from Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center showed the number of confirmed cases continued to slow on April 6, recording a daily increase of around 72,900 that day from around 74,700 on Apr. 5 and around 101,500 on Apr. 4.

In the Philippines, the latest tally is at 3,660 confirmed cases, 163 deaths and 73 recoveries as of Monday evening.

Four sub-sectors at the PSE gained at the close of Tuesday’s trading: property added 77.80 points or 2.68% to 2,975.66; industrials picked up 183.06 points or 2.66% to 7,049.39; holding firms increased 118.14 points or 2.15% to 5,599.42; and mining and oil climbed 59.84 points or 1.39% to 4,358.07.

On the other hand, services shed 22.32 points or 1.76% to 1,239.10 and financials dipped 5.86 points or 0.48% to 1,198.45.

Some one billion issues worth P6.36 billion switched hands on Tuesday, rising from Monday’s 757 million issues valued at P4.86 billion.

Advancers stood at 125, decliners at 72, and unchanged names at 43.

Foreign investors remained sellers, but net outflows were trimmed to P357.15 million from P470.75 million on Monday. — Denise A. Valdez