LOCAL SHARES closed lower on Wednesday ahead of the two-day break due to Holy Week amid rising coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections in the country.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) declined 2.46% or 139.18 points to end at 5,510.83, while the broader all shares index fell 1.78% or 60.61 points to 3,332.44.

PNB Securities, Inc. President Manuel Antonio G. Lisbona said in a text message that stocks decline amid higher COVID-19 cases in the country.

“The past two days saw some investors re-enter the market on the back of a perceived slowdown in new cases only to have their hopes dashed once again by the most recent reports,” Mr. Lisbona said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Health reported 3,870 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while deaths stood at 182.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Associate Claire T. Alviar said even as the local bourse ended in the red, bargain hunters are expected to return next week. 

“PSEi is above (the) 5,500 support line and today’s value turnover is approximately 9% lower than the year-to-date average of P6.5 billion,” Ms. Alviar said in a text message on Wednesday.

“The market broke below the 5,600 level as investors chose to cash in their positions ahead of the Holy Week holidays, as net foreign selling activity ballooned to P1.68 billion,” Timson Securities, Inc. Head of Online Trading and Trader Darren Blaine T. Pangan said in a text message.

Net foreign selling totalled P1.68 billion on Wednesday, more than the P357.15 million in net outflows seen on Tuesday.

All sectoral indices declined save for the industrials counter which registered an increase of 0.33% or 23.77 points to 7,073.16.

Property fell 4.61% or 137.26 points to 2,838.40; financials went down 3.42% or 41.08 points to 1,157.37; holding firms shrank 1.58% or 88.63 points to 5,510.79; services dropped 1.36% or 16.86 points to 1,222.24; and mining and oil gave up 0.85% or 37.11 points to 4,320.96.

Decliners beat advancers, 102 to 88, while 37 names closed unchanged.

Some 490.73 million shares worth P5.95 billion traded hands on Wednesday, lower than the P6.36-billion value turnover the previous day.

“We may have to see if the 5,500 support level holds next week. If not, the next support may be pegged at the 5,120 area,” Mr. Pangan said. — R.M.D. Ochave