Stocks inch higher as investors look for drivers

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THE MAIN INDEX posted an uptick on Monday amid slower economic activity, with market focus on the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irma in the US.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 0.33% or 26.56 points to 8,049.31.

The broader all-shares index climbed 0.32% or 15.31 points to 4,778.61.

“Philippine stocks closed higher today…with most attention focused on the hurricane hitting the US,” said Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan in a text message on Monday.

Mr. Limlingan noted that US stock indexes closed mostly lower Friday, finishing a holiday-shortened week with modest losses, as investors traded cautiously ahead of a potential missile test by North Korea and Hurricane Irma’s arrival on the Florida coast over the weekend.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13.01 points or 0.06% to 21,797.79; the S&P 500 lost 3.67 points or 0.15% to 2,461.43; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 37.68 points or 0.59% to 6,360.19.

Summit Securities, Inc. President Harry G. Liu said the market continues to trade in a “lull sideways behavior” as investors wait for significant catalysts to push the index beyond the resistance level of 8,100 points.

“Market investors are on the sidelines but buying at a certain support level. We can only breach that level if there will be good news that will be catalysts,” Mr. Liu said in a phone interview yesterday, still holding on to a speedy resolution to the ongoing battles in Marawi City and a tax reform package more favorable to business players as some of the significant market drivers.

Counters were mixed. Holding firms went up 0.55% or 43.57 points to 7,934.55; property increased 0.54% or 20.72 points to 3,806.03; services climbed 0.32% or 5.64 points to 1,742.37; and industrials edged up 0.22% or 25.59 points to 11,252.58. Mining and oil fell 0.30% or 42.36 points to 13,772.26 and financials shed 0.22% or 4.42 points to 1,966.5.

Advancers outnumbered decliners, 110 to 87, while 50 names closed unchanged.

Value turnover stood at P6.1 billion on Monday as 899.17 million shares changed hands, down from Friday’s P7.89 billion.

Other Southeast Asian stock markets also ticked up on Monday as investors heaved a sigh of relief after North Korea held back on a missile test, with Vietnam hitting an over 9-1/2-year high.

The US and its allies had been bracing for another long-range missile launch on Saturday, following multiple such launches in recent weeks that heightened tensions globally.

Vietnam shares rose 0.5% to its highest since February 2008, and were also headed for their eighth consecutive session of gains.

Singapore shares gained as much as 0.4%, boosted by lenders and consumer staples stocks.

Malaysian shares inched up 0.2%, while Thai shares rose 0.4%, heading for their eighth straight session of gains — JCL with Reuters