Stocks slightly up; Jollibee gains

The stock market rose slightly Friday, joining the rest of Asia as investor nerves eased after a week of volatility prompted by the rapid spread of a viral illness in China.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 7.06 points, or almost 0.1 percent, to 7,623.41 on a value turnover of P5.7 billion. Gainers beat losers, 106 to 70, with 60 issues unchanged.

Manila Water Co. Inc. climbed 4.4 percent to P10.40, while online game operator PhilWeb Corp. jumped 49.8 percent to P3.79. 

Jollibee Foods Corp., the biggest fast-food chain, rose 2.6 percent to P217, but Cemex Holdings Corp. fell 5.2 percent to P1.64.

The rest of Asian markets halted their slide Friday after the World Health Organization has stopped short of declaring a global health emergency—a rare instrument used only for the worst outbreaks.

The coronavirus infection has killed at least 26 people while the number of confirmed cases has leapt to 830, health officials said.  

Authorities have shut down public transport in 13 cities—together home to more than 40 million people--around the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan.

“Markets are fearful the virus could spread, and even if it doesn’t the impact on China could be large,” National Australia Bank analyst Tapas Strickland said in a note.

“The WHO has provided a hefty dose of market prescribed penicillin that has lowered investors’ fever for the time being,” said AxiCorp chief market strategist Stephen Innes.

Hong Kong was down nearly four percent for the week but closed 0.2 percent higher after a half-day session ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday.  

Tokyo closed up 0.1 percent after sliding 1.2 percent since Monday, while Sydney finished the day 0.3 percent higher.

Mainland bourses began their week-long break for the holiday, a day after the Shanghai exchange shed nearly three percent in its worst pre-Lunar New Year market fall on record.

Fears remain that the holiday—when hundreds of millions of people travel across China—could catalyze a further spread of the virus and knock-on market headwinds.  

“The fact the virus has spread to Singapore, an overly scrutinized customs entry point, suggests the best window for controlling the infection may have passed,” Innes said.

Oil benchmarks climbed slightly after shedding around 1.5 percent on Thursday on fears the viral outbreak would hit the aviation and transport sectors.  

“Traders remain incredibly twitchy about the effects the coronavirus outbreak could have on Chinese GDP and air travel more broadly,” Innes said.

Further slides would “very much depend on the stream of outbreak headlines”, he added.

New York weathered the battering of global equities on Thursday with sentiment shifting after confirmation the WHO would not yet declare a global emergency.  

The Nasdaq edged to a new record, while the Dow finished slightly negative. With AFP

Topics: Stock Market , Philippine Stock Exchange Index , Philippine Stock Exchange , PSE , PSEi , Jollibee
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