By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

LOCAL SHARES ended Wednesday’s session higher as prospects of an anti-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine lifted investor sentiment.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 26.95 points or 0.49% to close at 5,523.78 yesterday. The broader all shares index added 16.10 points or 0.48% to 3,329.12.

“The Philippine market rallied on new vaccine news, and optimism over positive signs of global economic recovery,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message.

Global pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. announced on Tuesday it has ongoing initiatives to develop an antiviral drug against COVID-19, which it said will use the same technology as its Ebola vaccine, Forbes reported.

This news, along with New York’s hiring of over 1,700 contact tracers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the city, boosted investor confidence and lifted US markets on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices gained 2.17%, 1.23% and 0.17% respectively on Tuesday.

For AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun, the better performance of the local market on Wednesday was attributable to bargain hunters.

“The PSEi started the day with a minor sell off. Investors were more optimistic (on Wednesday) than (on Tuesday) as they started bargain hunting which pushed the market higher toward the end of the trading session,” he said in an e-mail.

He also noted shares in First Gen Corp. (FGEN) drove up the main index after Singaporean company Valorous Asia Holdings Pte. Ltd. announced interest in buying its shares.

“FGEN was the biggest gainer for the main index today, up 14.2% after a Singaporean firm announced to purchase shares through a tender offer at a premium,” Mr. Mangun said on Wednesday.

Four of six sectoral indices ended trading in green territory. Mining and oil grew 127.73 points or 2.94% to 4,465.23; industrials rose 108.24 points or 1.52% to 7,200.37; financials increased 10.18 points or 0.94% to 1,087.34; and holding firms climbed 31.87 points or 0.57% to 5,573.69.

On the other hand, services shed 3.80 points or 0.28% to 1,315.70 and property lost 7.06 points or 0.25% to 2,757.83.

Value turnover on Wednesday stood at P5.48 billion with 1.51 billion issues switching hands, a slight increase from the previous day’s P5.17 billion with 1.36 billion issues.

Advancers bested decliners, 99 against 78, while 47 names closed unchanged.

Foreign investors remained sellers yesterday, but net outflows dropped to P209.92 million from P1.18 billion on Tuesday.

“The PSEi ended above its 5,500 support level today which may draw more momentum for a move higher. We could see it move higher in the coming days to test resistance,” Mr. Mangun said.