Investors lock gains ahead of long weekend

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    Share prices ended lower Thursday as investors took to profit- taking.

    The Philippine Stock Exchange index was up 106.54 points to close at 6,545.17, a 1.6 percent drop.

    The broader all shares index was down 46.3 points to 3,998.64, a 1.14 percent drop.

    Losers edged gainers 110 to 89 with 54 stocks unchanged. Trading turnover reached P5.02 billion.

    While stocks fell, the peso strengthened 0.5 percent after the Philippines reported its smallest trade deficit in three months in February on the back of falling imports and a decline in the slowdown of exports.

    “Expect the trade deficit to remain modest compared with pre-COVID-19 averages, which should translate to a current account surplus and near-term support for the peso,” said Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING Philippines.

    The peso closed at 48.54 to the dollar, up from 48.585 on Wednesday.

    The currency opened at 48.64 and hit a high of 48.50 and a low of 48.66. Trading turnover reached $659.28 million.

    SB Equities Inc. said the market dropped Thursday “ahead of a long weekend following a three-day advance with investors choosing to lock in gains and de-risk while awaiting government guidelines for quarantine restrictions in the capital region and nearby provinces for next week.”

    “With February trade data also coming in softer than estimated, the PSEi traded in the red all session on low volume, finishing just shy of its day low,” it said.

    Most actively traded Ayala Land Inc. was steady at P34.50. BDO Unibank Inc. was down P0.40 to P101.40. SM Investments Corp. was down P33 to P965. Universal Robina Corp. was up P2 to P142. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. was steady at P44.75. Dito CME Holdings Corp. was down P0.06 to P10.98. AC Energy Corp. was steady at P7.64. Bank of the Philippine Islands was down P0.30 to P83.70. Puregold Price Club Inc. was down P0.15 to P37.60. PLDT Inc. was steady at P1,255.