PHILIPPINE shares started the week in the green as hopeful investors in the country’s fight to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) added to the positive sentiment driven by the release last week of the latest consumer and business confidence data.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 4.73 points or 0.06% on Monday to close at 6,956.26, while the all shares index went up by 6.31 points or 0.14% to end at 4,329.95.

“With MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) Chairman [Benjamin de Castro] Abalos, [Jr.] talking [about] the easing of restrictions by next month to Level 3 while reproduction number and growth rates of the pandemic virus on the downtrend by OCTA, this further [improved] the sentiment among investors, thus local market continued its uptrend on the third trading session,” Diversified Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Aniceto K. Pangan said in a text message.

Metro Manila’s quarantine classification is expected to be updated this week as the alert level 4 currently imposed under the government’s granular lockdown with alert level systems end on Sept. 30.

Mr. Abalos is hoping that the region’s alert level will be brought down to alert level 3 as the virus growth rate declines.

Philstocks Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said in a separate Viber message, “Investors remained hopeful that the COVID-19 situation in the country would continue to improve, leading to the easing of social restriction measures.”

On Sunday, the Health department reported 20,755 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total active cases to 161,447. The national tally stands at over 2.49 million.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) latest confidence surveys which show that consumers and businesses are optimistic towards the upcoming quarter also gave a boost to sentiment,” Mr. Tantiangco said.

Last week, the BSP reported that the country’s consumer confidence index saw an improvement in the third quarter to –19.3% from the second quarter’s -30.9%.

However, the business confidence index went down to –5.6% after three consecutive quarters of optimism due to a surge in COVID-19 infections.

Meanwhile, consumer sentiment for the fourth quarter improved to 2.7% from 1.3% as the spending outlook also went up to 31.4% from 26.4%. The business confidence index for the fourth quarter was at 31.9%.

On Monday, sectoral indices were split.

Mining and oil dipped by 192.36 points or 2.03% to finish at 9,244.18; financials shed 15.26 points or 1.07% to 1,411.53; and property lost 25.35 points or 0.83% to 3,029.96.

Meanwhile, services climbed 24.74 points or 1.28% to 1,948.20 on Monday; holding firms improved by 15.44 points or 0.22% to 6,937.39; and industrials rose 12.71 points or 0.12% to end at 10,272.14.

Value turnover declined to P7.61 billion on Monday with 1.64 billion shares switching hands, down from the P8.95 billion with 2.11 billion issues traded on Friday.

Decliners beat advancers, 120 against 78, while 42 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling nearly doubled to P623.43 million on Monday from the P352.05 million logged in net outflows on Friday. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte