Stocks gain on lower inflation rate

The stock market rose Friday after the inflation rate in March eased to a 15-month low of 3.3 percent from 3.8 percent in February.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 19.05 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,873.18 on a value turnover of P5 billion. Gainers beat losers, 117 to 81, with 49 issues unchanged.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that slower annual increases in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages pulled down the March inflation rate. The inflation rate averaged 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2019, now within the government’s official target range of 2 to 4 percent for the year. 

LT Group Inc., the holding company of airline and tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan, climbed 2.9 percent to P16.50, while casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp. gained 2.1 percent to P12.84.

Conglomerate Ayala Corp. rose 1.1 percent to P45, while Phinma Energy Corp. advanced 5.8 percent to P1.64.

Meanwhile, Asian markets mostly rose in holiday-thinned trade Friday on hopes that China and the United States will hammer out a trade deal after both sides sounded notes of optimism.

With top negotiators from the world’s top two economies huddled down in Washington for three days of talks, there has been a growing sense they are close to an agreement to end a stand-off that battered global equities last year.

Donald Trump on Thursday added to the sense of hope when he said the two sides were nearing a successful conclusion.

“We will probably know over the next four weeks. It may take two weeks after that,” he told reporters following a meeting with Beijing’s top trade envoy and Vice Premier Liu He.

“It’s looking very good.”

Later Liu said they had “reached a new consensus on important issues,” according to China’s Xinhua. The news agency also reported that President Xi Jinping had called for the “early conclusion of negotiations.”

Both camps have been cautiously optimistic for months, but the last mile is proving to be the hardest as they tussle over whether and when Washington should remove the painful tariffs it imposed on Chinese goods last year.

While the news was once again upbeat, Asian markets were unable to press ahead with the rally that has characterized the past two weeks, with Hong Kong and Shanghai closed for holidays.

Tokyo ended 0.4 percent higher, Singapore added 0.4 percent and Seoul put on 0.2 percent.

There were also advances in Mumbai and Bangkok with Jakarta flat.

However, Sydney shed 0.8 percent and Wellington slipped 0.4 percent.

“There’s a little bit of a risk that it’s a sell-on-the-news event,” Ann Miletti, at Wells Fargo Asset Management, told Bloomberg News.  

“The devil is really in the details—how good is this deal going to look?”

Dealers are now awaiting the release of US jobs data later in the day for an idea about the state of the world’s top economy.

In forex trade, the pound edged up as traders keep tabs on the Brexit saga, with Prime Minister Theresa May set to hold a third day of talks with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to find a way to avert a no-deal divorce. With AFP

Topics: stock market , Philippine Stock Exchange , PSE , Philippine Stock Exchange Index , PSEi , inflation rate
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