Market slumps; Asiabest, AGG up

Stocks fell for a third day after data showed the Philippines incurred a record trade deficit of $41.4 billion in 2018 which reflected sluggish exports.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, shed 51 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 8,009.92 Tuesday, as five of the six sub-sectors declined.

The broader all-share index which represents all shares also tumbled 34 points, or 0.7 percent, to settle at 4,858.41, on a value turnover of P7.2 billion. Losers outnumbered gainers, 124 to 86, while 46 issues were unchanged.

Nine of the 20 most active stocks ended in the green, led by Asiabest Group International Inc. which climbed 9.4 percent to P26.90. Alliance Global Group Inc., the holding company of billionaire Andrew Tan, gained 2.4 percent to P14.30, while port operator International Container Terminal Inc. rose 1.9 percent to P116.90.

Meanwhile, other Asian stocks advanced Tuesday on optimism over US-China trade talks and a provisional deal to avoid a Washington shutdown, while the weak yen boosted exporters.

Initial trade talks are underway in Beijing aimed at averting punitive tariffs which could slow the global economy.

Top-level negotiators are set to arrive in the Chinese capital for meetings Thursday and Friday, ahead of a March 1 deal deadline.

Investors responded positively to reports that Donald Trump wants to meet Xi Jinping “very soon”, just days after the US president had appeared to write off an imminent summit with his counterpart.

“Officials on both sides of the US-China trade talks expressed satisfaction with the progress thus far,” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior analyst at Oanda, in a commentary.

Washington is demanding changes from Beijing on what it says are unfair commercial practices.

Failure by the economic superpowers to reach an agreement would see US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports more than double.

Meanwhile, US lawmakers said they had reached an agreement in principle on border security.

The announcement assuaged fears of a chaotic repeat of the recent 35-day partial US government shutdown—the longest in the country’s history.

The agreement included $1.4 billion in funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border -- a key campaign promise of Trump.

News of the deal -- which still needs to be accepted -- came as the president stirred up border controversy at a raucous rally in the frontier city of El Paso.

Hong Kong edged up 0.1 percent, while Shanghai gained 0.7 percent.  Sydney added 0.3 percent, Seoul rose 0.5 percent and Taipei jumped 0.9 percent.

Tokyo—returning from Monday’s public holiday—leapt 2.6 percent, as Japanese exporters further benefited from a resurgent dollar, which left the yen at its weakest level since the start of 2019.

The dollar has returned to early January heights, on the US currency’s longest unbroken rally in three years—despite the Fed recently changing course on interest rate hikes.

Investors have turned to the greenback as concern has built over poor growth forecasts and the health of other currencies in Europe and beyond.

Multiple central banks have fallen in line with the Fed’s dovish stance since it held interest rates unchanged two weeks ago. With AFP

The weak yen saw Tokyo-listed exporters such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda rise. 

The British pound clawed back some losses after dropping sharply Monday on dismal monthly GDP and manufacturing data, but the euro remained largely unchanged against the dollar. With AFP

Topics: Alliance Global Group Inc. , Andrew Tan , International Container Terminal Inc. , Xi Jinping
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