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Share prices flat; Petron declines

Share prices virtually closed flat Monday in listless trading as investors continue to search for a catalyst that could lift the market higher.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index slipped 9.35 points, or 0.1 percent, to 8,061.54 on a value turnover of P6 billion. Losers edged, gainers, 108 to 105, with 36 issues unchanged.

Petron Corp., the bigger of the two oil refineries, fell 6.2 percent to P6.75, while Manila Electric Co., the biggest retailer of electricity, dropped 2 percent to P360.

Globe Telecom Inc., the second-largest telecommunications firm, lost 2.5 percent to P1,980, but Premiere Horizon Alliance Corp., a speculative holding company with interests in mining and property development, surged 16.7 percent to P1.47

The rest of Asian stocks saw gains Monday as US and Chinese officials in Beijing geared up for crunch trade talks aimed at averting fresh tariff escalations.

Mainland Chinese markets reopened higher after the week-long Lunar New Year break despite a series of bearish global growth forecasts, with investor focus squarely on efforts to tackle the trade row.

Top US economic officials will travel to the Chinese capital this week for the third round of talks on Thursday and Friday, but deputies had already arrived and the White House said preparatory discussions were due to begin Monday.

Failure to agree a deal between the two economic superpowers  before March 1 would see punitive US duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods more than double.

“There’s a sense of urgency to this round,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“If no deal is agreed by then, a belligerent President Trump and US Congress will be more than willing to simply extend the trade war so China will need to make the first move if they are to reach a detente,” he added.

Analysts say imposition of the tariffs could weaken the global economy.  

US President Donald Trump said last week he does not expect to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before the deadline expires, quashing some optimism.

But Asian tech stocks tracked a small positive lead on Nasdaq Friday.  

Hong Kong was up 0.6 percent in the afternoon session, with social media and gaming giant Tencent seeing healthy gains, along with smartphone component makers such as Sunny Optical Technology and AAC Technologies.

Macau casino shares were also buoyant after strong tourism numbers over the New Year holiday.

Shanghai, reopening after a weeklong break, rose 1.4 percent. Seoul edged up 0.2 percent, but Sydney shed 0.2 percent. Jakarta and Singapore also posted losses.

Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund warned governments to prepare for a possible economic “storm” as growth forecasts dip.

It cited the trade row as one of four “clouds” overshadowing the global economy, along with Brexit uncertainty, the accelerated slowdown in China and financial tightening.

“The bottom-line—we see an economy that is growing more slowly than we had anticipated,” IMF managing director Christine Lagarde told the World Government Summit in Dubai at the weekend. With AFP

Topics: stock market , Philippine Stock Exchange , PSE , Philippine Stock Exchange Index , PSEi
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