SHARES recovered on Thursday on bargain hunting and as new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country hit a low for the year so far.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 84.07 points or 1.15% to close at 7,388.09 on Thursday, while the broader all shares went up by 37.68 points or 0.97% to end at 3,918.42.

“The local bourse bounced back this Thursday as investors hunted for bargains from the preceding day’s decline,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said in a Viber message.

“The continuous improvement in our country’s COVID-19 situation, with additional cases hitting 866 this past Wednesday, the lowest for the year so far, gave sentiment a boost,” he added.

The Health department reported 866 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, the lowest daily tally so far this year. On Thursday, 989 new cases were announced.

“Philippine shares rebounded sharply despite a continued surge in oil prices amid the intensifying conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a Viber message.

Mr. Limlingan said US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s statement that he is inclined to propose and support a 25-basis-point rate hike at the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) March meeting also affected trading.

“He stated that FOMC participants have an expectation that inflation will peak and begin to come down this year, but said that to the extent inflation comes in higher or is more persistently high than that then we would be prepared to move more aggressively by raising the federal funds rate by more than 25 basis points at a meeting or meetings,” he said.

Mr. Powell called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “a game changer” that could have unpredictable consequences, Reuters reported.

The Fed chief said to balance high US inflation against the impact of the Ukraine-Russia crisis, the central bank would begin “carefully” raising interest rates at its upcoming March meeting but be ready to move more aggressively if inflation does not cool as quickly as expected.

Back home, all sectoral indices ended in the green on Thursday. Mining and oil climbed 611.76 points or 4.83% to 12,273.44; services rose 45.39 points or 2.35% to 1,968.49; holding firms went up by 77.70 points or 1.09% to 7,150; property advanced by 36.35 points or 1.05% to 3,494.63; industrials gained 88.46 points or 0.87% to 10,181.41; and financials added 3.48 points or 0.20% to 1,691.68.

Value turnover increased to P8.26 million on Thursday with 1.82 million shares changing hands from the P7.78 million with 1.43 billion issues recorded on Wednesday,

Advancers outnumbered decliners, 121 versus 76, while 41 names closed unchanged.

Foreigners turned buyers on Thursday with P489.15 million in net purchases from the P295.42 million in net selling seen the previous day. — L.M.J.C. Jocson with Reuters