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Monday, July 15, 2024

PH stocks decline; peso tumbles to 58.76 a dollar

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Philippine stocks closed marginally lower Wednesday on lackluster trading, while the peso tumbled to a near 19-month low of 58.76 against the US dollar.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index closed at 6,366.03, down 2.77 points, or 0.04 percent, while the all-shares index ended at 3,438.46, lower by 2.08 points, or 0.06 percent.

Analysts said investors were not buying stocks even at the current cheap market prices.

“At yesterday’s close, the PSEI’s forward P/E [price-to-earnings] was 10.27x, a discount of 19.2 percent versus MSCI’s Asean Index’s 12.72x,” Abacus Securities research head Nicky Franco said.

Philstocks Financial Inc. research analyst Mikhail Plopenio said investors were worried over the unclear direction of the US Federal Reserve and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on their rate cut timing.

“Investors continued to stay on the sidelines amid lack of positive catalysts resulting in a tepid net market value,” Plopenio said.

Sectoral indices ended mixed, with services and holding firms advancing by 0.94 percent and 0.31 percent, respectively. Mining and oil also rose 0.24 percent, while financial climbed 0.11 percent.

Industrial dropped 0.89 percent, while property declined 0.77 percent. Average trading reached P3.88 billion.

Meanwhile, Asian equities were mixed on Wednesday following yet another record day in New York fueled by data that boosted US interest rate cut hopes, with expectations tempered by cautious comments from Federal Reserve officials.

In Europe, London fell at the open even after data showed UK inflation had eased to the Bank of England’s two percent target.

The below-forecast May US retail sales figures pointed to signs of fatigue among American consumers — a crucial driver of growth — suggesting the world’s number one economy was slowing and giving the central bank room to ease monetary policy.

The reading helped to slightly offset a surprisingly large jump in US jobs creation that pointed to a still-resilient labor market despite a long-running campaign of rate hikes and stubbornly high inflation.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq clocked up more records, driven again by a surge in demand for Big Tech, with chip giant Nvidia overtaking Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.

Nvidia, a titan in the artificial intelligence sector, hit a market capitalization of $3.349 trillion after cruising nearly 3,500 percent higher in the past five years. And one analyst predicted it could even hit $5 trillion in the coming year, according to Bloomberg News.

Shares in Hong Kong piled on nearly three percent after a recent run of weakness, with analysts saying investors were hopeful for fresh market-friendly measures to be announced at a forum in China being attended by securities regulator chief Wu Qing and central bank boss Pan Gongsheng.

“There’s anticipation of positive policies and expectations of reforms for banks regarding shareholder returns. I suspect the policies could be more relevant for Hong Kong-listed shares,” said Billy Leung, at Global X ETFs.

Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Mumbai, Jakarta and Taipei also rose but Shanghai, Sydney, Manila, Bangkok and Wellington edged down.

London opened slightly lower. Investors were unfazed by news that inflation had hit two percent in May, in line with expectations. The pound was barely moved.

Paris and Frankfurt were also down.

“The (retail sales) data clearly reflects a shift in US consumer behavior, which is becoming more conservative, feeling the pinch from higher interest rates, curbing wage increases and a depletion of savings,” said Rodrigo Catril of National Australia Bank.

“Importantly, too, we expect more of the same over coming quarters.”

The Fed’s so-called “dot plot” guidance to interest rates showed officials see just one cut before January, down from three predicted in March, and while some observers are optimistic for two, or even three, decision-makers remain reluctant.

On Tuesday, Fed governor Adriana Kugler said the policy was “sufficiently restrictive to help cool the economy and bring inflation back toward 2 percent without a sharp contraction in economic activity or a significant deterioration of the labor market”.

And St. Louis Fed boss Alberto Musalem added that he needed to see a “period of favorable inflation, moderating demand and expanding supply” before he could consider easing.

“These conditions could take months, and more likely quarters to play out,” he warned. With AFP

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