Market ends flat; NOW, Dito rise

Stocks closed virtually flat Monday in thin trading, with investors growing concerned about an uptick in coronavirus infections in Europe and the United States.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index ended nearly unchanged at 5,909.32, or minimally up 0.42 point from Friday’s close, on a value turnover of P4.3 billion. Losers overwhelmed gainers, 138 to 58, with 42 issues unchanged.

NOW Corp. jumped 49.8 percent to P3.58 after the company, owned by the Velarde family, secured a permit from the government to operate as the country’s fourth major mobile phone operator. Dito CME Holdings Corp., the country’s third major telecom firm, also advanced 9.6 percent to P4.12.

SM Prime Holdings Inc. of the Sy Group rose 3.4 percent to P29, but miner Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. fell 4.7 percent to P1.22.

Most Asian markets, meanwhile fell Monday following another disappointing performance on Wall Street as well as the lack of movement in Washington on a new stimulus.

After months of big gains around the world, fueled by government stimulus and central bank largesse, equities are beginning to wobble, with analysts warning traders were taking profits as they consider the rally may have been overblown.

A key worry is a spike in new virus cases in key economies that have led to containment measures being reimposed.

Britain’s government, noting hospitalization rates are doubling every eight days, said fresh restrictions could be put in place  across England, with several cities already seeing some measures.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country was at a “tipping point.”

France has seen death numbers creep back up and there are fears Madrid could be overwhelmed. New infection rates in the United States are also picking up again after dropping for weeks.

“Investors remain confused about which way to move... as lockdown fears take charge with the UK government sounding alarm bells as the Covid-19 curve moves in the wrong direction,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

“After the initial economic bounce from full-blown lockdowns, both the UK and Europe’s economic trajectory could be entering a gloomy second phase characterized by ongoing social distancing, elevated unemployment, and increasing damage to the supply side.” 

Hong Kong led losses, dropping 1.5 percent with market heavyweight HSBC tumbling around four percent to a 25-year low on fears it could be added to a Chinese list of firms deemed a threat to national security and following news it had been accused of allowing fraudulent activity to go unpunished.

Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Taipei, Wellington and Jakarta were also well down, with smaller losses in Singapore, though Mumbai and Bangkok were marginally higher.

Investors are keeping an eye on Capitol Hill where US lawmakers are still nowhere near agreeing on a new rescue package for the beleaguered economy, despite millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.

While Donald Trump has urged Republicans to lift their $500 billion offer, they remain miles apart from the Democrats, who are calling for around $2 trillion to be spent. With AFP

Topics: stocks , coronavirus infections , NOW Corp. , Dito CME Holdings Corp.
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