Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Doris Dumlao-Abadilla @Philbizwat­cher

The local stock barometer was sluggish on Thursday, just like most of its regional peers, as investors were jittery ahead of another speaking engagement by the new US Federal Reserve chief.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) shed 9.52 points or 0.11 percent to close at 8,465.77. The PSEi is now trading lower than the end-2017 closing of 8,558.42.

A hawkish tone from new US Fed chief Jerome Powell earlier raised bets that there would be more US interest rate increases this year than originally priced in by the market. As such, investors are closely monitoring his second speaking engagement.

Locally, investors are also bracing for a higher inflation report for February after the spike to a three-year high seen in January.

The PSEi was weighed down most by the financial and mining/oil counters which both fell by over 1 percent. The industrial and holding firm counters also slipped.

On the other hand, the ser- vices and property counters gained.

Value turnover for the day amounted to P7.56 billion. Foreign investors were net sellers to the tune of P557.2 million.

There were 110 decliners that edged out 84 advancers while 49 stocks were unchanged.

Gokongwei-led conglomera­te JG Summit weighed the PSEi the most, falling by 5.42 percent. Meralco also tumbled by 2.26 percent.

Ayala Corp., Jollibee and Metrobank also contribute­d to the decline.

Notable decliners outside the PSEi included PXP, TBGI and MRC which, respective­ly, slid by 13.85 percent, 11.67 percent and 9.88 percent. They all succumbed to profit-taking after gaining rapidly in previous days.

On the other hand, Ayala Land and SM Investment­s rose by over 2 percent, while SM Prime added 1.27 percent.

AGI and URC were modestly higher.

Notable gainers outside the PSEi included ECP, which rallied by 10 percent, while Now added 2.9 percent.

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