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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Stocks, peso rise ahead of inflation, GDP reports

Local stocks and the peso rose Monday ahead of the release of October inflation and gross domestic product

reports and on bullish momentum of Asian markets.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index climbed 88.76 points, or 1.48 percent, to close at 6,078.03, while the broader all-shares index gained 29.10 points to settle at 3,292.15.

Philstocks Financial Inc. research analyst Claire Alviar said investors were betting on the upcoming economic data including inflation and the gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

The strong domestic manufacturing data and drop in US long-term treasury yields also helped lift the Philippine market back to the 6,000 level, analysts said.

Value turnover, however, remained thin at P3.21 billion.

The peso breached the 55-a-dollar territory on continued hawkish signals from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The peso closed at 55.91 against the greenback on Monday, up from 56.10 a dollar Friday.

Meanwhile, Asian markets also rallied Monday following another strong performance on Wall Street, as below-forecast US jobs data fanned optimism that the Federal Reserve had reached the end of its interest rate hiking cycle.

After a tough year for traders, the bank’s decision last week to pause on monetary policy for a second meeting and hint that it would not tighten further has provided some much-needed vigor, and sparked talk of a new year cut.

Those hopes were given a boost Friday by figures showing far fewer jobs than expected were created in October, while other data pointed to a slowing economy, easing pressure on policymakers to lift rates further.

“The recent deluge of economic data does not paint a picture of an impending recession,” said SPI Asset Management’s Stephen Innes.

“Most economic indicators, aside from a notable miss in the ISM manufacturing index, did not signal a recession. Instead, the data seemed to align with a ‘just right’ scenario, akin to Goldilocks,” he added, referring to data that was neither too strong nor too weak.

“The deceleration in job growth… mitigated the risk of overheating or an excessively rapid economic expansion, a key factor holding the Federal Reserve back from officially declaring that it has reached its terminal rate.”

All three main indexes on Wall Street jumped Friday after the jobs reading, which also fueled bets on an interest rate cut by June, while Treasury yields eased back from 16-year highs.

Observers now say the road is open for equities to end the year on a strong note.

Asian markets tracked the rally in New York, with Tokyo more than two percent higher, while Hong Kong, Wellington, Manila and Jakarta were up more than one percent.

There were also gains in Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, Mumbai, Bangkok and Taipei.

Seoul piled on more than five percent after authorities reimposed a ban on short-selling.

London, Paris and Frankfurt rose at the open.

Still, analysts warned equity traders to remain vigilant.

“There’s a bit more reason for investors to be more optimistic that the Fed is probably done with rate hikes, but one should not let one’s guard down,” Vasu Menon, at OCBC Bank Singapore, told Bloomberg Television.

“If the economy proves to be more resilient, if inflation proves to be more stubborn, bond yields could go up once again.”

Expectations that the Fed would not lift rates any further also kept downward pressure on the dollar, with the yen holding its gains after rallying at the end of last week, having come within a whisker of a three-decade low.

Oil prices ticked higher after Saudi Arabia and Russia said they would continue with their output curbs into the new year.

Global benchmark Brent crude traded above $85 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate was near $81.

The news came after the commodity fell more than six percent last week as investors grew optimistic that the Israel-Hamas conflict would not spill over into a wider war in the crude-rich Middle East. With AFP

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