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Stock market up slightly; AC Energy, Jollibee gain

Share prices inch up Thursday along with the rest of Asian markets as the Federal Reserve acknowledged the US recovery was well on track but it would not taper monetary policy just yet.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 23.50 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,496.53 on a value turnover of P4.8 billion. Gainers beat losers, 109 to 70, with 54 issues unchanged.

AC Energy Corp., a unit of conglomerate Ayala Corp. of the Ayala Group, advanced 4.7 percent to P8.17, while Nickel Asia Corp., the biggest nickel miner, climbed 4.5 percent to P6.09.

Jollibee Foods Corp., the largest fast-food chain, rose 3.4 percent to P197, while major property developer Ayala Land Inc. increased 3.2 percent to P35.15.

The rest of Asian markets rose Thursday while Hong Kong was lifted after China sought to reassure investors over its latest regulatory crackdown.

Traders were also cheered by progress in Washington on President Joe Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, which he has said could “transform America” and add to the monumental amounts of stimulus already pumped into the world’s top economy.

The developments overshadowed concerns about the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant that is sending infection rates spiking in several countries—including those with high vaccination rates—and forcing some governments to impose lockdowns or other containment measures.

While the Fed news was met with a shrug on Wall Street, Asia enjoyed gains, having endured a volatile week.

Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai, Wellington, Taipei, Bangkok and Jakarta all rose.

But Hong Kong was the standout, piling on more than three percent, extending Wednesday’s 1.5 percent rally.

However, it was still way off clawing back recent losses as it had dropped more than nine percent from Thursday’s close to Tuesday’s finish.

Shanghai climbed more than one percent.

After a closely watched meeting, the Fed said the pandemic recovery was progressing well but it was still too early to take away the ultra-loose policies that have helped nurse the economy back to health.

The central bank has said it will maintain its massive bond-buying and record low interest rate scheme for as long as it takes to tame unemployment and keep inflation running hot for an extended period.

It said the worst-hit sectors “have shown improvement but have not fully recovered” and cautioned that “risks to the economic outlook remain.”

Referring to a time when the Fed can begin tapering, boss Jerome Powell told reporters: “We’re not there. And we see ourselves as having some ground to cover to get there.”

However, he said policymakers had taken a “first deep dive” on how to begin winding the bond-buying down but no decision had been made.

Observers said that with no meeting set for August, the bank was unlikely to move until the back end of the year. 

“The lack of substantial policy change by the Federal Reserve in its latest... meeting was largely expected,” said JP Morgan Asset Management strategist Tai Hui.

“What is noteworthy is that the Fed considers that the US economy ‘has made progress’ towards its goals—a strong hint it could start to taper its asset purchases as soon as December.” With AFP

Topics: Asian markets , Federal Reserve , US recovery , Philippine Stock Exchange Index
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