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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Philippine stocks rise as investors cheer positive US, China economic data

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Local stocks started the second quarter of 2024 in an upbeat note on the back of positive economic news from the US and China.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index rose 76.28 points, or 1.11 percent, to close at 6,979.81 Monday, while the broader-all shares index added 28.89 points, or 0.80 percent, to finish at 3,636.40.

China Bank Capital managing director Juan Paolo Colet said investors welcomed the US February print of the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, the preferred inflation gauge of the Federal Reserve, which was in line with consensus estimates and slower than the January data.

“These reinforced bets that the Federal Reserve is on track to cut interest rates as soon as June this year.,” Colet said.

“There was also good news from China where data showed that manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in six months,” he said.

Meanwhile, Asian markets were mixed while gold hit a record high Monday after data showed a slight uptick in US inflation that Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell said was “in line with expectations”.

Traders were also cheered by a big jump in Chinese factory activity that fueled hopes the world’s number two economy may be on its way back after bottoming out.

The Dow and S&P 500 ended at records Thursday, with the latter chalking up its best first quarter since 2019.

Long-awaited figures on the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index — the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation — showed a small on-year rise in March compared with February, though the core reading eased slightly.

Powell said the report “is pretty much in line with our expectations” and decision-makers were on track to hit their long-term inflation target of two percent.

He said that while the recent inflation data was higher than the Fed would have liked, the February figures were “definitely more along the lines of what we want to see”.

The data appeared to have little impact on traders’ expectations for a June interest rate cut but Powell warned they were unlikely to fall to the levels seen after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Friday’s news followed a surprise upward revision Thursday to fourth-quarter US economic growth that some observers said could complicate the Fed’s plans to cut borrowing costs.

In Asian trade, Seoul, Singapore, and Manila rose, while there were losses in Taipei and Jakarta.

Hong Kong, Sydney, Wellington, London, Paris, and Frankfurt were closed for Easter.

Gold hit a record high of $2,265.73, according to Bloomberg News, extending the year’s rally fueled by US central bank hints at an easing of credit conditions.

It is also being supported by its attraction as a safe haven in times of turmoil, with geopolitical tensions growing.

Shanghai jumped around one percent as traders welcomed news that China’s manufacturing grew for the first time in half a year, giving a boost to leaders as they battle to kickstart the struggling economy.

The 50.8 reading in March was the first showing expansion since September and was well above forecasts.

“The industrial sector seems to be resilient, partly helped by strong exports,” said Zhang Zhiwei at Pinpoint Asset Management.

“If fiscal spending rises and exports remain strong, the economic momentum may improve.”

But Tokyo sank more than one percent as the Bank of Japan’s closely watched Tankan survey showed that confidence among Japan’s largest manufacturers slipped in the first quarter, having risen for three straight quarters.

The yen strengthened slightly, having stabilized at the end of last week after hitting a 34-year low against the dollar on Wednesday. With AFP

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