LOCAL EQUITIES are expected to trade sideways this week as investors await key economic data releases.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went up by 32.92 points or 0.49% to end at 6,655.37 on Friday, while the broader all shares index gained 15.24 points or 0.42% to close at 3,564.42.

Week on week, however, the PSEi dropped by 30.53 points or 0.46% from its close of 6,685.90 on Feb. 23.

“The local market climbed this Friday, fueled by positive cues from Wall Street overnight. Investors also digested the positive statements from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe M. Medalla as he stated that the economic growth in the country will likely reach the government’s 6-7% target despite the rising interest rates,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research and Engagement Officer Mikhail Philippe Q. Plopenio said in a Viber message.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 387.40 points or 1.17% to 33,390.97; the S&P 500 added 64.29 points or 1.61% to 4,045.64; and the Nasdaq Composite went up by 226.02 points or 1.97% or 11,689.01.

Meanwhile, Mr. Medalla last week said there is room for a few more interest rate hikes that will not affect growth. He said the Monetary Board could consider a rate hike of 50 basis points (bps) at its March 23 meeting if February inflation exceeds 9%.

The BSP raised its benchmark interest rate by 50 bps at its first policy meeting of the year on Feb. 16, bringing the key rate to 6%, the highest in nearly 16 years.

Since May 2022, the BSP has raised policy rates by a total of 400 bps.

For this week, Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said investors will take cues from February consumer price index data.

“A February inflation print that is slower than January’s 8.7% may somehow lift sentiment since this may lead to a less hawkish stance by the BSP. However, a February inflation print that exceeds the prior month’s 8.7% may lead to a market decline as it strengthens the case for another aggressive move by the BSP,” Mr. Tantiangco said.

“Investors may also look into our upcoming labor force survey and foreign direct investments data for more clues on the local economy,” he added.

A BusinessWorld poll of 17 analysts yielded a median estimate of 8.9% for February headline inflation, within the 8.5% to 9.3% estimate of the BSP.

If realized, this will be faster than the 14-year high print of 8.7% in January and the 3% a year earlier.

“For the coming week, we could expect a short rebound following the release of Philippine inflation data, but optimism will still be tempered by the potential 50-bp rate hike from BSP,” AP Securities, Inc. Equity Research Analyst Carlos Angelo O. Temporal said in a Viber message.

Mr. Temporal placed the PSEi’s support at 6,500 and resistance at 6,800, while put the index’s support at 6,400-6,500 and resistance at 6,750-6,800. — Ashley Erika O. Jose