Stocks up; Melco, Petron rise

The stock market rose slightly Friday on bargain-hunting after retreating the other day, after the government announced a lower-than-expected first-quarter economic growth.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 9.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,767.62 on a value turnover of nearly P6 billion. Gainers beat losers, 108 to 73, with 58 issues unchanged.

Economic growth decelerated to 6.4 percent in the first quarter, the slowest in five quarters, amid weak government spending following last year’s robust construction activities in the run-up to the May presidential elections.

Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp., best-performing casino stock in the world this year, advanced 3.7 percent to P8.50. Melco, a subsidiary of Hong Kong gaming behemoth Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd., has surged 122 percent this year.

The close connection with Macau puts Melco Crown in the box seat to benefit from President Rodrigo Duterte’s bid to ease tensions with Beijing. At the same time, an anti-corruption drive in the former Portuguese colony is sending gamblers south to Manila.

Petron Corp., the bigger of the two oil refineries, climbed 2.7 percent to P10.68. The company expects net income to exceed P20 billion this year, based on monthly earnings of P2 billion a month.

Petron president and chief executive Ramon Ang told reporters a P20-billion full-year income was not only attainable but could be the “minimum” of what the company could earn this year.

Jollibee Foods Corp., the largest fastfood chain, gained 1.5 percent to P203, while International Container Terminal Services Inc., the biggest port operator, rose 1 percent to P99.

Asian traders, meanwhile, headed into the weekend on a nervous note Friday as a pick-up in US stocks and positive data were offset by worries about a crisis engulfing Donald Trump’s presidency that could throw his economic agenda into doubt.

Markets in the region were rocked Thursday by claims by recently fired FBI boss James Comey that the president pressed him to drop a probe into ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn’s links to Moscow.

That came a day after it was reported Trump had divulged classified information to Russia’s foreign minister, fanning further allegations about his own ties to the country’s leaders.

The reports compounded a crisis at the White House that has led for calls for the tycoon to be impeached, fanning fears that his plans for tax cuts and ramped up infrastructure spending could be knocked off course.

Trump on Thursday slapped down the accusations against him and said he was the victim of the “greatest witch hunt” in American political history.

In Asian trade Tokyo ended up 0.2 percent, Hong Kong gained 0.3 percent and Seoul put on 0.1 percent while Shanghai was flat and Sydney eased 0.2 percent. Singapore was also flat, while Taipei retreated.

And in early European trade London rose 0.3 percent, while Paris and Frankfurt each rose 0.1 percent. With AFP

Topics: stock market , Philippine Stock Exchange , Philippine Stock Exchange index , PSE , PSEi , Melco , Petron
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