PHILIPPINE STOCKS eked out gains on Wednesday on last-minute bargain hunting amid a lack of catalysts and ahead of the US inflation report, as well as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) policy meeting next week.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) inched up by 2.87 points or 0.04% to close at 6,471.84 on Wednesday, while the broader all shares index increased by 5.07 points or 0.14% to 3,461.51.

“The PSEi closed flat today as a challenging outlook for the second half of the year, and lack of positive catalyst, triumphed over beat corporate earnings,” Unicapital Securities, Inc. Research Analyst Neil Andrew L. Maderaje said in a Viber message on Wednesday.

“With the 6.4% July inflation print and the 7.4% second-quarter GDP growth, investors will now watch closely the upcoming decision of the Monetary Board meeting on Aug. 18,” Mr. Maderaje added.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Analyst Claire T. Alviar said in a Viber message that the PSEi went up on last-minute bargain hunting as investors await the release of US consumer price index (CPI) data overnight, as it could provide clues on how aggressive the Federal Reserve would be at its next meeting, which she said “may influence the decision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at their next policy meeting.”

“Among the PSEi members, Puregold Price Club, Inc. was at the top, gaining 3.74%, while ACEN Corp. dropped the most by 2.89%,” Ms. Alviar added.

BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla last week said the central bank may hike rates by 50 basis ponts (bps) at the Monetary Board’s Aug. 18 meeting after headline inflation accelerated further in July.

The Monetary Board has raised rates by a total of 125 bps since May, including a 75-bp off-cycle hike last month, amid sustained and broadening inflation pressures.

The majority of the sectoral indices ended in the green on Wednesday except for financials, which went down by 8.41 points or 0.55% to 1,511.50, and industrials, which declined by 32.50 points or 0.33% to 9,634.95.

Meanwhile, mining and oil climbed by 128.86 points or 1.14% to 11,355.66; services went up by 9.02 points or 0.53% to 1,690.56; property rose by 13.83 points or 0.47% to 2,918.79; and holding firms increased by 11.28 points or 0.18% to 6,191.08.

Advancers overwhelmed decliners, 111 versus 59, while 63 names closed unchanged.

Value turnover declined to P6.34 billion on Wednesday with 843.4 million shares changing hands from P12.19 billion with 965.57 million issues seen the previous trading day.

Net foreign selling dropped to P119.38 million on Wednesday from the P5.64 billion seen the previous trading day.

Unicapital Securities’ Mr. Maderaje said he expects the PSEi to move sideways on Wednesday and placed its support at 6,300 and resistance at 6,600. — J.I.D. Tabile