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Stocks close flat; Puregold rises

The stock market closed virtually flat Friday, with many investors staying on the sidelines after another thunderous rise in US jobless claims caused by the virus crisis.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added just 4.66 points, or 0.09 percent to 5,346.97 on a value turnover of P4 billion. Gainers beat losers, 98 to 74, with 39 issues unchanged.

Puregold Price Club Inc. of retail tycoon Lucio Co. advanced 6.3 percent to P38.70, while PLDT Inc., the biggest telecommunications firm, rose 2.6 percent to P1,118.

Manila Electric Co., the largest retailer of electricity, climbed 3.4 percent to P240, but International Container Terminal Services Inc., the biggest port operator owned by tycoon Enrique Razon Jr., fell 2.8 percent to P70.

Crude prices, meanwhile, slipped Friday after the previous day’s record surge as traders questioned Donald Trump’s claims that Russia and Saudi Arabia were set to slash output. Equities struggled into the weekend after another thunderous rise in US jobless claims caused by the virus crisis.

Tokyo and Seoul ended barely moved, Hong Kong shed 0.6 percent and Shanghai ended down 0.6 percent.

Sydney and Mumbai fell more than one percent, Singapore shed more than two percent and Bangkok dipped 0.4 percent.

But there were gains in Jakarta and New Zealand.

As the number of people with COVID-19 tops a million and the death toll continues to climb, investors remain hostage to uncertainty as they try to gauge the long-term economic impact of the pandemic, which is widely expected to plunge the planet into recession.

However, with trillions of dollars pledged in government support, the wild volatility that characterized markets at the start of the crisis has given way to some form of stability.

And providing a much-needed shot in the arm Thursday was a tweet by the US president that said Moscow and Riyadh could slash output to end their vicious price war, which sent crude prices to near-two-decade lows last month.

Trump said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who he claimed had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more which, if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” Trump tweeted.

“Could be as high as 15 Million Barrels,” he added in a subsequent post.

The news sent crude soaring, with Brent at one point rising almost 50 percent and WTI around 35 percent. Brent eventually pared gains to end up 21 percent and WTI 25 percent, still a record jump for either contract.

However, doubts began to grow after the Kremlin denied Putin had spoken to the crown prince.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, did call for a meeting of OPEC and other major producers led by Russia to “stabilise the oil market,” just one day after the kingdom boosted supplies to record levels.

“This could of course be a very substantial development, even in view of the massive oversupply of 25 million barrels a day that the market is currently facing,” Magnus Nysveen, head of analysis at industry consultant Rystad Energy, said.

The deal “sounds too good to be true,” he added.

Both main contracts gave back some of their gains Friday. With AFP

Topics: Stock Market , Philippines Stock Exchange , PSE , Philippines Stock Exchange Index , PSEi , Asian stock market , coronavirus disease 2019 , COVID-19 , Puregold
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