The stock market rose slightly Thursday in thin trading, with sentiments weighed down by rising virus cases and fresh lockdowns in Europe.
The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 13.03 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,938.33 on a value turnover of just P3.4 billion. Gainers beat losers, 104 to 80, with 62 issues unchanged.
MerryMart Consumer Corp., the grocery chain owned by businessman Edgar Sia II, advanced 4.4 percent to P3.33, while NOW Corp., the fourth major mobile phone operator owned by the Velarde family, climbed 2.3 percent to P5.33.
International Container Terminal Services Inc., the biggest port operator owned by tycoon Enrique Razon Jr., increased 2.5 percent to P119.80, but Puregold Price Club Inc. of retail tycoon Lucio Co fell 1.7 percent to P44.15.
Concerns about the reimposition of virus lockdowns, stalled vaccine trials and dimming hopes of new US stimulus any time soon, meanwhile, weighed on Asian and European markets Thursday.
Regional investors tracked another sell-off in New York, where all three main indexes turned negative after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that while talks continued, Republicans and Democrats were still “far apart” on a rescue package.
Tokyo suffered steep losses, while Mumbai, Taipei and Wellington were also in the red. Singapore and Hong Kong were both well down, with little reaction from news that the two cities’ governments were pushing ahead with plans to open a travel bubble in a first for Asia.
Seoul lost 0.8 percent, though shares in Big Hit Entertainment—the management agency of K-pop sensation BTS—more than doubled on their debut after the initial public offering was more than 600 times oversubscribed.
The firm soared from its IPO price of 135,000 won ($118) to its daily limit of 351,000 won, giving it a market capitalization of $8.7 billion and putting it among South Korea’s top 40 most valuable companies.
While the broad view is that a new spending package will get passed eventually, the comments reinforced expectations that there will be nothing before next month’s presidential and congressional elections.
“This has been an ongoing drama,” Paul Nolte, at Kingsview Investment Management, said. “The latest twist I heard is nothing is going to get done until the election. That’s why I think you’re getting the market selling off a little bit.”
However, analysts said traders were taking comfort from the possibility that Joe Biden and the Democrats will win the White House and both houses of Congress, paving the way for a bigger stimulus than anything that could be agreed before the vote.
Adding to the downbeat mood on trading floors is the surge in coronavirus infections in Europe, which is forcing governments to revert to tough containment measures that observers fear could deliver a blow to a tentative recovery from national lockdowns earlier this year.
France on Wednesday imposed a curfew in Paris and eight other cities—covering almost a third of the country’s population—for as long as six weeks, while Germany and Ireland also ramped up restrictions. With AFP