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Stocks plunge to near one-year low

The stock market plummeted Tuesday to near one-year low on political distractions, ignoring the overnight gains in Wall Street and China’s more-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index sank 146.86 points, or 1.9 percent, to 7,723.39 on a value turnover of P7 billion. The benchmark index has already lost 10 percent since the start of 2018. Losers overwhelmed gainers, 161 to 57, with 34 issues unchanged.

Puregold Price Club Inc. of retail tycoon Lucio Co. tumbled 9.1 percent to P47.20, while Megaworld Corp., the biggest lessor of office spaces, slumped 5 percent to P4.40.

Conglomerate Ayala Corp., which is into banking, telecommunications, property development and water distribution, declined 3.9 percent to P909, while PLDT Inc., the largest telecommunications firm, fell 2.4 percent to P1,405.

The rest of Asian markets failed Tuesday to hold on to early gains, with trade and geopolitical tensions still dogging sentiment.

Hong Kong and China turned negative after fluctuating through the morning on data showing the world’s number two economy expanded in January-March at the same rate as the previous three months.

The 6.8 percent reading was slightly more than tipped in an AFP survey and came despite a brewing trade dispute with the United States, a drive to address the country’s troubling debt mountain and a war on pollution that saw factory production cut.

Hong Kong fell 0.4 percent in the afternoon and Shanghai finished down 1.4 percent. Sydney, where a number of firms that rely on Chinese business are based, was flat, but Singapore added 0.2 percent.

Tokyo closed slightly higher while Seoul eased 0.2 percent, Wellington dipped 0.7 percent and Taipei fell more than one percent.

“The economic performance continued to improve and the economy was off to a good start,” said National Statistics Bureau spokesman Xing Zhihong.

However, Xia Le, chief Asia economist at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA in Hong Kong, said ahead of the release that “growth headwinds remain in place, mainly from domestic policy tightening and trade skirmishes from the US. Growth is most likely to moderate through the year.”

The news provided support to equities after Monday’s sell-off sparked by a US-led attack on alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria—in response to what the Western allies say was a toxic gas attack by the Russia-backed regime.

US markets ended higher Monday on relief that the strikes did not escalate despite Russian warnings.

However, dealers are keeping a close watch on events, while the trade row with China remains in focus after the Wall Street Journal reported the US is considering measures over Beijing’s restrictions on tech devices.

That came just after Washington banned exports of sensitive technology to Chinese giant ZTE for seven years over the way it handled a probe into the illegal sale of goods to Iran and North Korea. With AFP

Topics: Stock Market , Philippine Stock Exchange Index , Philippine Stock Exchange ,
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