26.8 C
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Stock index sinks to 8-month low

- Advertisement -

Stocks slumped Friday on profit-taking and concerns over the country’s widening trade deficit, ignoring gains in the regional market.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index sank 143.09 points, or 1.8 percent to an eight-month low of 7,899.98 on a value turnover of P6.1 billion. Losers beat gainers, 134 to 76, with 43 issues unchanged.

The government earlier reported that the trade deficit increased 73 percent in February to $3.06 billion from a year ago, as exports sank for the first time in 15 months, while imports continued to rise at a double-digit rate.

Conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. lost 4.3 percent to P4.93, while Jollibee Foods Corp., the biggest fastfood chain, fell 2.6 percent to P292.20.

SM Investments Corp. of retail tycoon Henry Sy Sr. tumbled 4.9 percent to P940, while Ayala Corp. declined 2.2 percent to P956.

- Advertisement -

The rest of Asian markets mostly rose Friday as Donald Trump soothed concerns about military action in Syria while also sparking hopes the US could rejoin a massive Pacific-wide free-trade pact.

Tokyo’s Nikkei ended up 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong edged 0.1 percent up, Sydney gained 0.2 percent and Seoul added 0.5 percent. Singapore put on 0.9 percent, while Wellington and Taipei were also higher.

However, Shanghai finished 0.7 percent off.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, intervened in currency markets for the first time since 2005 as it looks to shore up the local dollar, which fell to 7.85 per US dollar, the weakest point of its trading band.

The US president on Wednesday sent shudders across trading floors when he warned “missiles will be coming” to Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack by the Russia-backed regime, fueling fears of a stand-off between the major powers.

But he tempered the rhetoric a day later suggesting he might hold off on an imminent strike while he holds talks with France and Britain on how to deal with the crisis.

As investors digested the remarks, it emerged Trump had directed senior aides to explore rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he left on becoming president, calling it a US jobs killer.

The U-turn came as he suggested the US and China might not eventually impose tariffs on each other’s goods, despite recent tit-for-tat warnings over hundreds of billions of dollars of trade.

That followed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s conciliatory speech this week promising to open up his country’s economy.

The developments have provided a huge lift to markets, which were sent into turmoil when Trump last Friday threatened fresh tariffs on a vast array of Chinese imports, fanning fears of a trade war between the world’s top two economic powers.

Trump also said Thursday the review of a trade pact with Canada and Mexico was “coming along great.”

“Remarkable. That’s the only thing I can really say in the past 36 hours or so about the change in tone that seems to be emanating from the president and the White House,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

“President Trump is walking back from the brink on so many fronts it’s making my head spin,” he added. 

- Advertisement -


Popular Articles