July 18, 2018, 6:24 pm
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Telecoms weigh on PH index

Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged higher on Monday, with Singapore building on steep gains in the previous session, while the Philippines rebounded after slipping as competition concerns weighed on telecom shares.

Asian stocks firmed, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.2 percent, hovering above a recent two-month low amid optimism about global growth after the strong US payrolls data on Friday.

“Asian currencies have been trading higher compared with the US dollar for the past several weeks, so there’s anticipation that Asian equities will be preferred over other markets, particularly those in the West,” said Manny Cruz, an analyst with Asiasec Equities Inc in Manila.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 53.87 points to close at 8,358.57.

Gainers edged losers 114 to 82 with 42 stocks unchanged. Trading turnover reached P5.85 billion.

Fitch Ratings announced during trading that it has raised the Philippines’ ratings to BBB from an earlier BBB-, raising optimism in the market. 

“This hence provided a support of the president’s economic plans, which include a tax reform aimed at strengthening the fiscal outlook,” said Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital Development Corp.

SB Equities Inc., meanwhile said the market closed on its high for the second successive session, despite trading all most of the morning in the red, “as sentiment was bolstered by Friday’s positive U.S. jobs data.” 

But the Philippine index fell as much as 0.3 percent in early trade, with a drop in telecom stocks.

Telecom stocks weighed on the index, with top operators PLDT Inc and Globe Telecom Inc falling as much as 4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, after the government indicated a Chinese company could enter the telecom market.

Officials of the Philippine government said on Sunday that China Telecom Corp could become the nation’s third telecoms player, as the government looks to stir up competition in an effort to boost notoriously poor services.

Singapore shares rose as much as 0.7 percent, on course to extend Friday’s 1.1 percent gain.

Shares of United Overseas Bank Ltd rose as much as 2.6 percent, their biggest intraday spike in over seven months.

The city-state’s top taxi operator ComfortDelGro Corp was the best performer on the index, climbing as much as 4.7 percent after it said on Friday it would buy a 51 percent stake in a unit of Uber. – Reuters 
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