PHILIPPINE STOCKS ended in positive territory on Wednesday as investors hunted for bargains amid higher unemployment figures in March.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose by 0.61% or 40.60 points to end at 6,659.18 on Wednesday, while the broader all shares index gained by 0.3% or 10.82 points to close at 3,516.57.

“The local bourse rebounded by 40.60 points (0.61%) to 6,659.18 driven by bargain hunting,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Analyst Claire T. Alviar said in a Viber message.

“Moreover, positive employment figures bolstered sentiment. The unemployment rate increased to 3.9% in March compared to February’s 3.5%; nonetheless, this figure was still considered tight and lower than the previous year’s 4.7%,” she added.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday reported that the number of unemployed Filipinos in March dropped to two million in March from 2.42 million in the same period last year.

Shares rose as investors welcomed data showing the country posted a narrower trade deficit in March, Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a Viber message.

The balance of trade in goods reached $3.18 billion in March, down by 36.6% from the $5.02 billion deficit in the same month a year ago, separate PSA data released on Wednesday showed.

“Gold prices climbed as traders anticipated a potential Fed rate cut this year. However, oil prices remained flat amid uncertainty over the ceasefire in Gaza, with the Brent contract narrowing by 0.2% to $83.16 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate retreating by 0.13% to $78.38 per barrel,” Mr. Limlingan added.

Back home, sectoral indices were mixed on Wednesday. Property climbed by 4.71% or 111.34 points to 2,474.44; services went up by 1.61% or 31.08 points to 1,959.96; and mining and oil rose by 0.04% or 3.97 points to 9,104.88.

Meanwhile, holding firms dropped by 1.02% or 62.18 points to 5,998.41; financials retreated by 0.5% or 10.51 points to 2,066.92; and industrials declined by 0.02% or 2.02 points to 9,055.02.

“The property sector jumped the most. This surge was led by SM Prime Holdings, Inc., which increased by 7.12%, and Ayala Land, Inc., which rose by 4.91%, leading the gainers among the PSEi,” Ms. Alviar said.

“On the other hand, SM Investments Corp. was at the bottom, losing 2.8%,” she added.

Value turnover went down to P5.98 billion on Wednesday with 434.16 million shares changing hands from the P11.52 billion with 7.9 billion issues traded on Tuesday.

Advancers outnumbered decliners, 99 versus 91, while 40 names were unchanged.

Net foreign selling went down to P9.45 million on Wednesday from P890.07 million on Tuesday. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave