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Stocks up; Asian markets plunge

The stock market rose in the first trading day of 2019 in lean trading, ignoring the plunge in the rest of Asia, as local investors realign their portfolios.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 23.18 points Wednesday, or 0.3 percent, to 7,489.20 on a value turnover of P3.4 billion. Gainers beat losers, 96 to 85, with 44 issues unchanged.

SM Prime Holdings Inc., the integrated property unit of retail tycoon Henry Sy Sr.,  climbed 3.4 percent to P37, while Wilcon Depot Inc., a major retailer of construction supplies, advanced 3.6 percent to P13.06.

Cemex Holdings Philippines Inc. rallied 2.6 percent to P1.95, while major air-conditioner maker Concepcion Industrial Corp. gained 2 percent to P37.75.

The rest of Asian markets plunged Wednesday, starting the new year by extending a slide that made 2018 the worst in a decade, as fresh data reinforced worries about the stuttering Chinese economy.

With a number of potential banana skins dotting the next 12 months—including the China-US trade row and Brexit—dealers are keeping to the sidelines as they look for signs of stability.

Hong Kong led the losses, tumbling almost three percent, while Shanghai shed more than one percent after two indicators showed Chinese manufacturing activity shrank in December.

The purchasing managers index (PMI) readings, from the government and a private survey, were both around lows not seen since 2017 and are the latest to highlight problems in the world’s number two economy following a slew of downbeat figures including on trade, factory output and inflation.

“China manufacturing PMI is falling at a pace faster than economists’ forecast, suggesting global economic slowdown and trade war is hurting the country’s manufacturing activities,” Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note.  

And Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia, told Bloomberg News the the reading was a reminder of the US-China trade tensions and “brings back to the surface worries on growth”.

There were also market losses in Sydney, which dropped 1.6 percent, while Seoul shed 1.5 percent and Singapore slipped 0.9 percent. Taipei plunged 1.8 percent while Mumbai was one percent lower. Tokyo and Wellington were closed for public holidays.

Investors were also spooked by the ongoing US government shutdown, which is now in its second week.

Donald Trump on Tuesday invited leaders from both parties to talks to end the standoff, but with Democrats refusing to pass any budget that would fund the president’s Mexican border wall there is little optimism a deal can be made.

For their part, Democrats, who take over the House of Representatives on Thursday, have lined up spending bills without addressing the wall.

Trump appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone on Twitter by reaching out to Nancy Pelosi, who is set to become House Speaker again.

“Border Security and the Wall ‘thing’ and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?” he tweeted. With AFP

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