PH leads drag in SE Asia

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    Southeast Asian markets fell Thursday as investors feared the US government’s decision to sign a bill backing protesters in Hong Kong could thwart Beijing and Washington from defusing their 16-month trade dispute.

    The Philippine index, the top drag in the region, retreated from previous session’s gains,

    The index was down 68.23 points or 0.87 percent to 7,768.86.

    The broader all shares index was down 34.05 points or 0.73 percent to 4,650.95.

    Losers edged gainers 116 to 64 with 52 stocks unchanged. Trading turnover reached P5.44 billion.

    The peso closed at 50.705 to the dollar, up from 50.80 on Wednesday. The currency opened at 50.82, hit a high of 50.70 and a low of 50.87. Trading turnover reached $1.04 billion.

    “Local shares were sold down ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday Thursday and with concerns  of growing tensions as US President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that expresses US support for Hong Kong protesters. The legislation in support of the protesters requires annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trade status under American law — and sanctions against any officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses or undermining the city’s autonomy,” said Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital Development Corp.

    Most actively traded Alliance Global Group Inc. was down P0.08 to P11.10. Ayala Land Inc. was up P0.20 to P44.70. Bank of the Philippine Islands was down P0.85 to P88. SM Investments Corp. was down P019 to P1,070. DMCI Holdings Inc. was up P0.05 to P6.85.

    Ayala Corp. was up P2.50 to P804.50. BDO Unibank Inc. was down P3 to P154. SM Prime Holdings Inc. was up P0.60 to P39.15. Universal Robina Corp. was down P3 to P151.

    “All eyes will be on just what kind of responses China would muster, and whether it would derail the trade negotiations,” OCBC Treasury Research said in a note.

    Some analysts, however, feel there is a low possibility of Trump’s move affecting trade talks as his signature was expected.

    “Expect some belligerent noises from China about domestic affairs interference today, but no concrete reprisals,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA said in a note.

    The Singapore benchmark – which is highly vulnerable to headlines related to the trade talks – marked their worst session in a week.

    Malaysian shares edged lower, dragged by financials.

    Indonesian equities were on track for a sixth straight session of loss, with financials leading the decline.

    Vietnamese stocks shed 0.4 percent, with financials weighing on the index. – With Reuters