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Market retreats; PLDT down

Philippine stocks retreated Friday, as Asian markets followed Wall Street lower and oil prices weakened on the last trading day before Christmas.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 23.50 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,563.67 on a value turnover of P6.2 billion. Losers overwhelmed gainers, 105 to 66, with 46 issues unchanged.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has investments in tollroads, water and electricity distribution and hospitals, lost 3.1 percent to P5.99, while SM Prime Holdings Inc. of retail tycoon Henry Sy, dropped 1.3 percent to P27.

Manila Water Co. Inc., which distributes water to the eastern area of Metro Manila and nearby provinces, slipped 2.7 percent to P27.30, while PLDT Inc., the biggest telecommunications firm, fell 2.1 percent to P1,313.

Regional stocks mirrored negative sentiment globally, with shares of US retailers falling sharply and European stocks under pressure over worries about Italy’s ailing Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank.

Another troubled European lender, Germany’s Deutsche Bank, said Friday it had agreed to pay a total of $7.2 billion to settle a case with the US Department of Justice over its role in the subprime mortgage crisis.

Shanghai suffered the sharpest downturn Friday of almost one percent, while Hong Kong slid 0.51 percent in afternoon trade and Sydney shed 0.28 percent on a shortened trading day in Australia ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Tokyo was closed for a public holiday, Singapore fell 0.30 percent mid-afternoon and Seoul edged up 0.01 percent.

“Hong Kong stocks are troubled by capital outflows,” Ben Kwong, executive director at KGI Asia in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News.

China is facing massive capital outflows as investors seek better and more stable investments abroad.

Traders on the mainland were also grappling with fears over rising borrowing costs in the world’s two largest economies.

The US Federal Reserve raised borrowing costs earlier this month, while China has tightened monetary conditions.

And oil struggled Friday, with both contracts down.

Asian markets were hit after the Dow’s closely monitored quest to hit 20,000 points struck another roadblock Thursday, with declines by retailers Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot contributing to the index’s second straight fall.

In forex trade, the yen—which has fallen sharply against the greenback since Donald Trump’s shock US presidential election win in November—rose against the dollar Friday.

However, analysts tipped the US currency to build on its recent strength in the New Year.

“Going into next year, we are confident the dollar will continue to make headway. It will be the currency that appreciates in 2017, it’s just a question of how much,” Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh, told Bloomberg News.

Observers are betting Trump’s plans for a fiscal stimulus will stoke growth in the US, and speculation of higher spending has already sent the dollar to near a 14-year high against the euro.

Mainland Chinese investors have been fretting over a weakening yuan, which has plunged 13 percent against the greenback since its peak in January 2014. With AFP

Topics: Philippine Stock Exchange , Asian markets , Wall Street , Oil prices , Christmas , Metro Pacific Investments Corp. , PLDT
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