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Stocks rally; URC, Petron advance

The stock market rose Wednesday on bargain hunting and growing optimism that China and the United States will reach a trade deal.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index advanced 105.49 points, or 1.4 percent, to 7,939.24 on a value turnover of P7.8 billion. Gainers beat losers, 122 to 88, with 42 issues unchanged.  

Universal Robina Corp., the biggest snack food maker, climbed 4.3 percent to P146.50, while Petron Corp., the bigger of the two oil refineries, gained 4.1 percent to P7.10.

SM Prime Holdings Inc., the largest integrated property developer, increased 3.3 percent to P38.90, while Alliance Global Group Inc. of tycoon Andrew Tan rose 2.8 percent to P14.20.

Most Asian equities, meanwhile, climbed Wednesday while the positive sentiment provided support to regional currencies against the safe-bet dollar.

The yuan was among the big gainers following a report that the US has called on China to stabilize the unit as part of any agreement between the world’s top economic powers.

Wall Street returned from a long weekend to provide a healthy lead as US President Donald Trump said trade talks—which resumed in Washington Tuesday—were “going very well” but are “very complex.”  

He also indicated he could put back the March 1 deadline for talks to be concluded—when US tariffs on Chinese goods are due to more than double—saying it is “not a magical date.”

Observers say that while there are no details about the negotiations the fact they are still talking and China appeared responsive to the call for yuan stability was good news.

Hong Kong rose 0.9 percent while Shanghai ended up 0.2 percent and Tokyo closed 0.6 percent higher.

Seoul and Taipei each climbed more than one percent, Singapore put on 0.4 percent and Wellington 0.3 percent. But Sydney slipped 0.2 percent.

The upbeat mood on trading floors gave investors confidence to buy higher-risk currencies, pushing the South African rand around one percent higher and Australia’s dollar up 0.7 percent. The yuan also climbed 0.7 percent.

The pound held gains after strong British jobs and wages data, while it was also getting support from hopes that Prime Minister Theresa May could win changes to her Brexit deal with the European Union as she heads to Brussels later in the day.

While EU leaders have said they are not willing to bend on the agreement, analysts say there could be some movement that would help her push it through parliament and avoid a messy divorce that could hammer the British economy.

“The EU is showing some possible concessions about the timing of the exit, as (European Commission chief) Jean-Claude Juncker has said a delay beyond the European parliamentary elections in May would not be opposed, but the UK has to request it, which they have not done,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Topics: Universal Robina Corp. , Petron Corp. , SM Prime Holdings Inc. , Alliance Global Group Inc.
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