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Stocks rise slightly; Metro Pacific up

Share prices rose slightly Tuesday in dull trading, with investors searching for a catalyst to prop up the market.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 12.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,381.68 on a value turnover of just P3.6 billion. Gainers edged losers, 91 to 90, with 55 issues unchanged.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which is into toll roads, water and electricity distribution, power generation and hospitals, gained 2 percent to P4.52, while Universal Robina Corp., the biggest snack food maker, climbed 1.6 percent to P130.80.

Jollibee Foods Corp., the largest fast-food chain, rose 1.5 percent to P252.60, but Megawide Construction Corp., which just completed the expansion of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, tumbled 4.4 percent to P18.20.

Energy firms, meanwhile, led a sell-off in most Asian equity markets on Tuesday a day after supply fears sent oil prices plunging, while confidence remains fragile owing to ongoing fears of a global trade war.

After hitting three-and-a-half-year highs at the start of the month, crude has dropped almost 10 percent as it is hit by a perfect storm of issues that have fueled fears of a glut.

The losses filtered through to energy firms with CNOOC and PetroChina down more than three percent in Hong Kong, while Woodside Petroleum was more than two percent off in Sydney and Tokyo-listed Inpex lost more than one percent.

Broader stock markets were also mostly down with Hong Kong 1.2 percent lower, Shanghai 0.6 percent off and Sydney 0.6 percent lower. There were also losses for Seoul, Wellington, and Taipei.

However, Tokyo—which was closed for a holiday Monday—ended 0.4 percent higher thanks to a weaker yen and Singapore edged up 0.3 percent in late trade.

Worries about the impact on demand caused by a possible trade war between the US and China took their toll last week, as did news that Libya was exporting again after recent oil field closures.

That all came just weeks after major producers Saudi Arabia, Russia and Opec agreed to lift a 2016 ceiling that had supported prices.

The latest spark for selling came Monday on reports the US may tap its Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower prices, and speculation Riyadh was considering increasing output for some Asian countries.

Also, Monday US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated the Trump administration could allow some exceptions to a ban on purchases of Iranian oil.

“It very much seems like a continued reaction to potential supply increases,” Bart Melek, head of global commodity strategy at TD Securities in Toronto, told Bloomberg News.

“The combination of the supply-side effect and the potential for less demand as a result of trade woes that we’re seeing are prompting people to take some of the long bets off oil right now.”

Oil fell on Tuesday, extending losses of more than four percent the day before.

Fears about a China-US trade war continue to nag investors, with both sides filing counter-complaints at the World Trade Organization after recently imposing and threatening further tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods. With AFP

Topics: Philippine Stock Exchange Index , Metro Pacific Investments Corp. , Universal Robina Corp. , Jollibee Foods Corp.
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