STOCKS inched up on Monday ahead of the release of major US earnings reports and economic data and despite fears of a more aggressive tightening by the US Federal Reserve.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went up by 11.21 points or 0.16% to close at 6,996.11 on Monday, while the broader all shares went down by 2.62 points or 0.07% to 3,723.96.

“Philippine shares closed slightly higher as investors brace for a week of major first quarter 2022 US earnings reports ahead. Last week, US equities closed lower on Thursday as they feared higher rates and inflation could darken the economic outlook for earnings,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a Viber message.

Mr. Limlingan said the market is waiting for the release of US data on housing data estimates, jobless claims, and the purchasing managers’ index.

“Local stocks managed to post marginal gains on Monday even as most investors stayed on the sidelines amid a dearth of fresh incentives. The market remained apprehensive as some macro data, particularly inflation and interest rates, may be a bit uncertain in the months ahead due to supply chain issues and elevated oil prices,” Papa Securities Corp. Equities Strategist Manny P. Cruz said in a text message.

US stock investors worried geopolitical uncertainty and the Fed’s fight against inflation could dent economic growth are heading for defensive sectors they believe can better weather turbulent times and tend to offer strong dividends, Reuters reported.

The healthcare, utilities, consumer staples and real estate sectors have posted gains so far in April even as the broader market has fallen, continuing a trend that has seen them outperform the S&P 500 this year.

Most investors are on the lookout as the Fed has said it will aggressively tighten its policy to combat surging consumer prices. Several big Wall Street banks have raised concerns against the Fed’s aggressive measures, which could bring about a recession.

At home, sectoral indices were split on Monday. Services climbed by 19.45 points or 1% to 1,946.56; mining and oil rose by 73.03 points or 0.59% to 12,290.64; and property gained by 16.94 points or 0.52% to 3,238.38.

Meanwhile, holding firms fell by 18.58 points or 0.28% to 6,552.06; industrials lost 25.28 points or 0.26% to end at 9,608.53; and financials declined by 3.82 points or 0.23% to 1,649.63.

The MidCap index dropped by 5.55 points or 0.47% to close at 1,168.14 and the Dividend Yield index improved by 0.42 point or 0.03% to 1,676.78.

Value turnover decreased to P3.66 billion with 751.06 million shares changing hands from the P4.21 billion with 1.42 billion issues seen on Wednesday. The market was closed on April 14-15 in observance of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Decliners narrowly beat advancers, 96 versus 90, while 47 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling dropped to P198.13 million from the P294.89 million seen the previous trading day. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson with Reuters