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Market climbs to new record

Stocks closed at a new record Friday, after the government announced gross domestic product grew 6.1 percent in 2014, the next fastest in Asia, after China.

Investors placed their bets on the Philippines, on expectations the economy will benefit from the slide in oil prices and a recovery in the US, its second-biggest export market.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, advanced 72 points, or 1 percent, to settle at 7,689.91, which broke the old record of 7,661.18 achieved on Wednesday.

The heavier index, representing all shares, also climbed 38 points, or 0.9 percent, to finish at 4,465.28, on a value turnover of P9.3 billion.  Gainers outnumbered losers, 95 to 89, while 48 issues were unchanged.

GDP rose 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, bringing the full-year expansion to 6.1 percent. This marked the third straight year the country grew above 6 percent.

“The Philippines is one of the better growth stories in the emerging-market space,” said Saktiandi Supaat, head of foreign-exchange research at Malayan Banking Bhd. in Singapore.

“The US growth recovery makes it more enticing. It’s also not pulled as much by the drop in commodity prices,” Supaat said.

Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. emerged as the most active stock, with value turnover of P2 billion. It rose 1 percent to P1.04. The company said it would spend $170 million for acquisitions and explorations.

Property developer 8990 Holdings Inc. jumped 12.5 percent to P9.11 to become the biggest gainer among the 20 most active stocks.  This followed the company’s announcement that net income in 2014 surged 52 percent to P3.3 billion from a year ago.

Lopez Holdings Corp. rose 4.7 percent to P7.40, after two subsidiaries won an international arbitration case before the International Chamber of Commerce against joint venture partner SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd.  The arbitration court ordered SunPower to purchase Lopez-controlled First Philec Solar Corp.’s shares in their joint venture for $30.3 million and pay First Philec $25.3 million in compensation for alleged breached of supply contract.

Jollibee Foods Corp., the largest operator of restaurants, added 3.6 percent to close at P232 while infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. gained 2.8 percent to P5.20.

Retailer Puregold Price Club Inc. gained 2.3 percent to P42.15, while JG Summit Holdings Inc., the investment company of tycoon John Gokongwei, increased 2.3 percent to P25.05. SM Investments Corp., the holding company of tycoon Henry Sy, climbed 2.1 percent to P929.

Meanwhile, Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, with Tokyo’s main index rising after Japanese traders shrugged off data showing inflation slowing in December and household spending falling.

Tokyo’s gains were in line with a broad rally on Wall Street the day before, after the Federal Reserve signalled that growth and jobs in the world’s top economy remained robust and a raft of generally solid US corporate earnings.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 0.39 percent, or 68.17 points, to 17,674.39 at the close, with traders buoyed by a weaker yen, which boosts Japanese exporters.

The Shanghai Composite index fell 1.1 percent in the afternoon in Asia while Hong Kong traded flat. Sydney gained 18.82 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 5,588.3 while Seoul finished flat, closing down 1.76 points at 1,949.26. 

Japanese government data released Friday showed that consumer inflation in the world’s third largest economy slowed for a fifth month in December to 2.5 percent year-on-year, down from 2.7 percent in November, on the back of plummeting oil prices and weaker consumer spending. 

Adjusted for a sales tax increase, the rate rose just 0.5 percent, well short of the Bank of Japan’s 2.0 percent inflation goal.

However, analysts said that while driving down prices, lower energy costs could boost economic growth in Japan, a net importer of oil. 

“There is growing confidence in the US economy... Employment has gotten better and the effects from cheaper oil have yet to come,” Shigetoshi Kamata, general manager of the research department at Tachibana Securities in Tokyo told Bloomberg News. 

“Investors feel bullish for Japanese stocks today.”

Japan’s industrial output rebounded with a 1 percent increase on-month in December, official data showed, reversing a surprise fall in November but missing expectations of a sharper rise. Japanese household spending fell 3.4 percent from a year ago, as a sales tax hike weighed on shoppers. With AFP, Bloomberg

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