Stocks recover as gov’t extends relaxed lockdown

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By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

LOCAL SHARES recovered on Thursday after investor worries eased as the government announced the continuation of a relaxed lockdown in Metro Manila.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 131.15 points or 2.18% to close at 6,147.66 on Thursday. The broader all shares index also gained 63.44 points or 1.79% to end at 3,607.80.

“The PSEi recovered after President Duterte extended the quarantine measures on Metro Manila instead of enforcing stricter restrictions,” AAA Southeast Equities, Inc. Research Head Christopher John Mangun said in an e-mail.

The market was on a downtrend in the past days due to investor anxiety that quarantine measures might be tightened again as the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases continued to rise.

But President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced Wednesday night that quarantine measures, which have been relaxed since last month, will remain the same until the end of July.

Restrictions in Cebu City, which was on a strict lockdown the past weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases, were also relaxed starting Thursday. Mr. Mangun said this also helped boost investor confidence as several business activities are based in Cebu City.

For Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan, the improvement of the PSEi can be attributed to optimism over the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

News wires reported that the vaccine being developed by United States-based Moderna, Inc. is about to enter its third phase of trials this month. This news did not benefit the local market the past sessions, but started to influence the PSEi on Thursday.

“The PSEi closed much higher as investors focused on COVID-19 vaccine hopes and early signs of an upswing in business activity during the pandemic,” Mr. Limlingan said in a mobile message.

All sectoral indices closed in green territory. Property climbed 86.93 points or 2.93% to 3,047.81; financials added 25.24 points or 2.14% to 1,199.69; holding firms increased 122.78 points or 1.94% to 6,427.30; services picked up 25.04 points or 1.79% to 1,419.02; industrials rose 94.72 points or 1.29% to 7,416.38; and mining and oil gained 18.10 points or 0.35% to 5,181.43.

Value turnover stood at P4.41 billion with 4.8 billion issues switching hands, lower from the previous day’s P7.29 billion with 2.66 billion issues.

“Selling pressure was minimal, however, buyers were still quite cautious as evident in the trade volumes with turnover value at P3.67 billion, just half of the daily average. We may see the main index start to move higher,” Mr. Mangun said.

Advancers outnumbered decliners, 135 against 62, while 37 names ended unchanged. Offshore investors remained sellers, but net outflows fell to P641.67 million on Thursday from P1.65 billion the day prior.