Shares, peso down

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    Share prices ended lower Wednesday amid investors taking-profit on reports a pharmaceutical firm reports halting testing of its new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.

    The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) was down 101.19 points to 5,932.84, a 1.68 percent drop.

    The broader all shares index was down 42.02 points to 3,562.56, a 1.17 percent drop.

    Losers edged gainers 118 to 73 with 48 stocks unchanged. Trading turnover reached P5.1 billion.

    The peso closed at 48.66 to the dollar, down from 48.56 on Tuesday.

    The currency opened at 48.63 and hit a high of 48.585 and a low of 48.66. Trading turnover reached $584.9 million.

    Reuters reported Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia led drops in Asia’s emerging stock markets.

    Currency markets across the region were more resilient, although Indonesia’s rupiah again suffered after a week dominated by concerns about government influence over its central bank, forcing the bank to intervene again in markets.

    In Kuala Lumpur, the listed units of state-run oil and gas group Petronas were among the top losers as oil prices fell below $40 a barrel for the first time since June on worries over demand.

    The index fell as much as 1.9 percent to its lowest since the end of June.

    With central banks across the region cutting interest rates to offset the impact of the coronavirus crisis, a slim majority of analysts expect Bank Negara Malaysia to shave another 25 basis points off its main rate on Thursday, bringing it to a record low of 1.5 percent.

    The central bank has already slashed rates by 125 bps this year but ING economist Prakash Sakpal argued that the ringgit’s 4 percent rise against the dollar since June should give the bank more room for manoeuvre.

    The ringgit dipped 0.2 percent against the dollar in morning trade.

    The rupiah has fallen more than 1 percent in the past week and it was down another 0.5 percent on Wednesday, with the central bank’s head of monetary management telling Reuters it had intervened to calm spot currency markets.

    Wei Liang Chang, a macro strategist at DBS, said the rupiah was continuing to suffer from concerns over proposed changes to the central bank charter as well as selling of Indonesian bonds, among the region’s favorite high-yielding carry trades for foreign investors.

    Stockbroker SB Equities Inc., said the Wednesday market’s drop snapped its four-day rally while pulling the index back to below 6,000, amid concerns that a COVID-19 vaccine could be delayed following AstraZaneca’s decision to pause trial.

    “With local fresh coronavirus infections again registering above 3,000 and as foreign outflow extended to 16 sessions, the PSEi corrected from the open, trading all session in the red before finishing on its day low,” SB Equities said.

    Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital Development Corp., noted that AstraZeneca put a hold on the late-stage trial of its highly-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine candidate after a suspected serious adverse reaction in a study participant.

    “(Overnight) another massive drop in tech put the Nasdaq Composite in correction territory and led to the S&P 500′s worst three-day stretch in months,” Limlingan also said.

    Most actively traded SM Investments Corp. was down P21 to P887. Ayala Land Inc. was down P1.15 to P29.75. SM Prime Holdings Inc. was down P0.85 to P28.30. BDO Unibank Inc. was down P2.25 to P91.25. AC Energy Philippine Inc. was up P0.20 to P3.13. PLDT Inc. was down P4 to P1,446. Ayala Corp. was down P2 to P716. Alliance Global Group Inc. was up P0.43 to P6.65. Universal Robina Corp. was down P0.60 to P142.90. JG Summit Holdings Inc. was down P0.45 to P61.70. (With Reuters)