PHILIPPINE shares closed in the green on Thursday, with investors optimistic after the government maintained loose restriction measures for Metro Manila and nearby provinces or the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus bubble.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) improved by 23.50 points or 0.36% to 6,496.53 on Thursday, while the all shares index rose by 31.94 points or 0.79% to end at 4,042.03.

“Local market rebounded as government retains its GCQ (general community quarantine) stance for NCR Plus starting Aug. 1 with heightened restrictions, instead of the much-feared circuit breaker lockdown,” Diversified Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Aniceto K. Pangan said in a text message.

“The local market rose but gains were kept in check on [the] possibility of stricter restrictions. Several business groups, as well as Metro Manila mayors, pushed for stricter lockdown measures for two weeks to prevent the spread of the Delta variant,” AB Capital Securities, Inc. Junior Equity Analyst Lance U. Soledad said in a Viber message.

Metro Manila and its nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will remain under GCQ until Aug. 15, Malacañang announced on Wednesday, even as coronavirus cases continued to rise.

The Health department on Thursday logged 97 new Delta variant cases, bringing the country’s tally for the variant to 216 infections.

“Prices did not move higher because of a surge in demand from optimistic investors, but rather due to the reduced selling pressure from panicking shareholders which have been driving the market lower over the last week,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said via e-mail.

“Trading volumes have increased slightly, although a lot of investors will still choose to be on the sidelines because of the uncertainty,” Mr. Mangun added.

Value turnover inched down to P4.82 billion with 925.21 million shares switching hands on Thursday from the P4.49 billion with 1.08 billion shares traded on Wednesday.

All sectoral indices posted gains on Thursday. Mining and oil climbed 251.36 points or 2.62% to 9,843.07; industrials went up by 149.29 points or 1.65% to 9,181.21; financials increased by 11.75 points or 0.84% to 1,403.02; property rose by 13.61 points or 0.44% to finish at 3,088.40; holding firms gained 6.75 points or 0.1% to 6,479.81; and services inched up by 0.64 points or 0.04% to 1,553.11.

Advancers beat decliners, 109 against 70, while 54 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling slowed to P465.76 million on Thursday from the P772.37 million recorded the previous day.

“We might see another session of sideways trading as ghost month nears, and as investors monitor the country’s Delta variant count, and if the uptrend in positivity rate will be sustained,” AB Capital Securities’ Mr. Soledad said. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte