LOCAL STOCKS are expected to move sideways in the coming days amid the shortened trading week and ahead of the release of March inflation data.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) fell by 145.07 points or 2.18% to close at 6,499.68 on Friday, while the broader all shares index went down by 45.36 points or 1.28% to 3,493.37.

Week on week, the PSEi decreased by 102.49 points or 1.55% from 6,602.17 on March 24.

“The market ended the trading week on a negative note… due to the market’s attempt to avoid uncertainties over the weekend and may have been further influenced by preparations for the upcoming long weekend, which weighed on the market sentiment,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Analyst Claire T. Alviar said in a Viber message.

“On the economic data front, the increase in the National Government’s outstanding debt as of end-February further weighed on market sentiment,” Ms. Alviar added.

The National Government’s outstanding debt hit a record-high P13.75 trillion as of end-February as domestic borrowings increased, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said on Thursday.

Preliminary data from the BTr showed outstanding debt inched up by 0.4% or P54.26 billion from the P13.698 trillion as of end-January “primarily due to the net issuance of domestic securities.”

Overall debt grew by 13.7% from P12.09 trillion as of end-February 2022. Year to date, debt rose by 2.5% from the P13.42 trillion as of end-December 2022.

For this week, Globalinks Securities and Stocks, Inc. Head of Sales Trading Toby Allan C. Arce said in a Viber message that stocks may trade sideways ahead of the release of the March inflation report and non-working days on Thursday and Friday in observance of Holy Week, as well as on Monday to mark the Day of Valor.

“Volumes may be thin as funds trim exposures amid the lengthy Lenten holiday and as investors await the March inflation report,” Mr. Arce said.

“There could be further weakness early in the week ahead of the inflation data and policy rate hike fears, but a technical rebound can follow if March inflation turns out lower than expected,” First Metro Investment Corp. Head of Research Cristina S. Ulang said in a Viber message.

The Philippine Statistics Authority will release March inflation data on April 5, Wednesday.

A BusinessWorld poll of 16 analysts yielded a median estimate of 8.1% for March headline inflation, closer to the upper end of the 7.4% to 8.2% forecast of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for the month.

If realized, this will be slower than the 8.6% in February, but faster than the 4% print in March 2022.

March would also be the 13th straight month that inflation overshot the BSP’s 2-4% target for the year.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort put the PSEi’s immediate support at 6,330.97 and resistance at 6,900-7,000. — A.H. Halili