Shares touch 4-month low, virus surge triggers selloff

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    Share prices ended lower Monday as the surge in cases of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pushed investors to sell holdings.

    The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) was down 176.09 points to 5,662.46, a 2.62 percent drop.

    The broader all shares index was down 109.71 points to 3,949.87, a 2.7 percent drop.

    Losers edged gainers 207 to 28 with 32 stocks unchanged. Trading turnover reached P9.22 billion.

    The peso closed at 48.54 to the dollar, down from 48.455 on Friday.

    The currency opened at 48.46 and hit a high of 48.43 and a low of 48.555. Trading turnover reached $798.55 million.

    A worrying surge in cases has prompted restrictions to be reimposed in parts of the country, including Metro Manila.

    Shares were at their lowest level in more than four months, falling as much as 3.6 percent, their sharpest drop since August.

    “Sentiment is weighed down by the dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections as of late,” said Jennifer Lomboy, fixed income fund manager at First Metro Asset.
    Lomboy added this “clouds the country’s economic recovery.”

    Vaccine supply has also been limited in the Southeast Asian nation so far with only frontline medical staff and healthcare workers being given shots in an inoculation campaign that started this month.

    Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital and Development Corp., said the market’s drop brought it all the way to its support level at 6,500.

    “Philippine shares tested the 6,500 support as the uniformed curfew and surge in cases kept foreign funds at bay. On top of the curfew, liquor bans (took) effect starting (March 15) in cities such as Quezon City and Paranaque. According to the respective LGUs (local government units) of the cities, this will be done as an attempt to reduce the surge in COVID-19 infections in their areas,” Limlingan said said.

    “On the other hand, rising reopening optimism in the US and other developed economies continued to encourage the rotation into cyclical stocks,” he added.

    Most actively traded Dito CME Holdings Corp. was down P1.53 to P9.85. Ayala Land Inc. was down P1.10 to P35.90. SM Prime Holdings Inc. was down P0.75 to P35.65. SM Investments Corp. was down P16 to P1,018. BDO Unibank Inc. was down P3.60 to P102.30. MerryMart Consumer Corp. was down P0.65 to P4.54. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. was down P2.10 to P45.45. Bank of the Philippine Islands was steady at P80.20.

    Premier Horizon Alliance Corp. was down P0.35 to P2.10. AC Energy Corp. was down P0.33 to P6.77.