Market soars; URC, Globe rise

The stock market jumped Monday as some of the world’s worst-hit countries reported falling death rates, providing some much-needed hope in the battle against the coronavirus.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index soared 223.84 points, or 4.2 percent, to 5,570.81 on a value turnover of P4.8 billion. Gainers beat losers, 119 to 76, with 41 issues unchanged.

Universal Robina Corp., the biggest maker of snack foods, surged 13.3 percent to P116.70, while Globe Telecom Inc., the largest telecommunications firm, advanced 12.2 percent to P2,300.

Manila Electric Co., the biggest retailer of electricity, advanced 8.3 percent to P260, while conglomerate Ayala Corp. rose 6.4 percent to P480. Puregold Price Club Inc. of retail tycoon Lucio Co climbed 5.9 percent to P41.

The rest of Asian markets rose Monday, though oil prices dipped after a meeting of top producers was delayed.

While the disease continues its deadly sweep across the planet, with more than 1.25 million now infected and nearly 70,000 dead, news out of Europe that fatalities were easing has lifted spirits on trading floors.

Italy reported its lowest daily toll in two weeks, while Spanish officials said deaths fell for the third straight day and France reported its lowest daily toll in a week.

Meanwhile, South Korea saw its fewest new cases in six weeks, Australian new infections were also dropping and Donald Trump said the US was showing signs of stabilizing, despite the number of cases there passing 335,000—the highest in the world.

“Focus in markets will now turn to the path out of lockdown and to what extent containment measures can be lifted without risking a second wave of infections,” said National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland.

And Lindsey Piegza, at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., told Bloomberg TV she was hopeful the crisis could be brought under control and the US economy reopened “by the end of April, early May.”

“If that does occur, it’s likely that we’re able to control the downturn from a depressionary scenario into a recessionary scenario.”

The relatively upbeat news lifted Asian markets, which shrugged off data Friday showing a massive drop in US jobs in March that added to news that millions of people had applied for unemployment benefits.

Tokyo and Sydney rose more than four percent, while Seoul and Singapore gained almost four percent. Hong Kong and Jakarta rallied more than two percent, while Taipei added 1.6 percent.

However, observers remain cautious as the US enters what Trump said would be “a time that’s going to be very horrendous” with “some really bad numbers.”

The country’s Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on Fox News: “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”

Erik Nielsen, of UniCredit SpA, said: “There is light at the end of the tunnel but it’s still a long tunnel.”

Attention this week will be on a planned meeting of OPEC and other key crude producers aimed at easing a supply glut that has sent oil prices crashing. With AFP

Topics: coronavirus , Philippine Stock Exchange Index , COVID-19 , Universal Robina Corp , Globe Telecom Inc
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