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Stocks end flat; Manila Water dips

The stock market closed virtually flat Friday, with last-minute buying capping the losses at the close of trading.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added just 0.69 point, or less than 0.01 percent, to 7,507.20 on a value turnover of P5.3 billion. Losers beat gainers, 105 to 71, with 54 issues unchanged.

BDO Unibank Inc., the biggest lender in terms of assets, rose 1.6 percent to P155.40, but PLDT Inc., the largest telecommunications firm, fell 2.6 percent to P1,064.

Manila Water Co. Inc. sank 11.2 percent to P13.28 on profit-taking and after business tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. offered to acquire the rest of the utility’s shares from conglomerate Ayala Corp. in a tender offer.

ISM Communications Corp. slumped 11.3 percent to P2.43.

The rest of Asian markets mostly fell Friday after a week-long rally as investors take profits and assess developments in China’s deadly coronavirus crisis.

Strong US data, Chinese financial support and a broadly healthy earnings season have provided a much-needed boost to equities after last week’s sell-off, while there is a sense that the economic impact of the outbreak globally could be limited.

China’s decision Thursday to halve tariffs on $75 billion of US goods as part of their trade detente has also cheered the mood.

Observers say the virus, which has killed more than 600 people and infected 31,000, will batter Chinese growth in the first quarter but it could rebound later in the year, as it did after SARS.

“If the pattern of the SARS impacts are a guide, there is the potential for the Chinese economy to rebound with an above-potential growth rate once the outbreak subsides,” said T. Rowe Price analyst Chris Kushlis.

“In 2003, China’s growth rate climbed to 15.5 percent in the third quarter as pent-up demand saw consumption rebound as the SARS outbreak waned. A similar rebound following the coronavirus could help keep the longer‑ term track of the Chinese economy on a relatively even keel.”

Heading into the weekend, dealers were taking a step back after the week’s strong gains across the world, which has seen all three main indexes on Wall Street chalk up record highs.

Hong Kong, which has climbed around 4.5 percent this week, dipped 0.7 percent, while Tokyo dipped 0.2 percent.

Singapore and Taipei both fell more than one percent, while Seoul slipped 0.7 percent, Sydney shed 0.4 percent and Mumbai eased 0.5 percent. Bangkok also fell.

However, Shanghai added 0.3 percent to extend a rebound to four straight days as it recovers from a near eight percent drop suffered Monday, when it reopened after the Lunar New Year break.

The gains have been greatly helped by central bank cash injections into the financial market, while there is speculation that government agencies are also buying up shares to prevent a rout.

Stephen Innes, of AxiCorp, said that while the virus outbreak seems to be stabilizing in the epicenter of China’s Hubei province, “the disruption to China’s economy will likely continue in the short term.”

“This may give cause for pause or at minimum investors coming up for air” after recent gains. With AFP

Topics: Stock Market , Philippine Stock Exchange Index , Philippine Stock Exchange , PSE , PSEi , Manila Water
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