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Market retreats; ICTSI, PLDT fall

Stocks fell Thursday on profit taking tracking a sharp drop on Wall Street as the deadly coronavirus sweeps the planet.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index tumbled 66.21 points, or 1.2 percent, to 5,342.31 on a thin value turnover of P4.4 billion. Losers overwhelmed gainers, 126 to 54, with 35 issues unchanged.

International Container Terminal Services Inc., the biggest port operator owned by tycoon Enrique Razon Jr., dropped 6.5 percent to P72, while PLDT Inc., the biggest telecommunications firm, declined 6 percent to P1,090.

Robinsons Land Corp. of the Gokongwei Group slumped 6 percent to P13.68, while parent JG Summit Holdings Inc. fell 5.4 percent to P53.

The rest of the equity markets were mixed in Asia on Thursday but the deadly coronavirus is keeping traders on edge, with infections approaching one million and countries forced to tighten already strict lockdown measures.

The selling extended into Asia early on but investors managed to pare the losses, with some markets moving into positive territory.

Tokyo ended down 1.4 percent, while Sydney and Kuala Lumpur shed two percent apiece and Singapore dropped 0.2 percent. Wellington is also down.

But Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent and Shanghai rallied 1.7 percent, with Seoul up more than two percent. Jakarta and Bangkok also rose.

Oil soared 10 percent on hopes for a US intervention to end a Saudi-Russia price war, with President Donald Trump saying he expected the two to resolve the row, while dealers were also cheered by China’s decision to enter the market.

After two weeks of much-needed gains fueled by trillions of dollars in stimulus and widespread monetary easing, focus has returned to the devastation wreaked on populations and the long-term impact of the pandemic.

Trump’s COVID-19 task force has warned the US could see almost a quarter of a million deaths and the president warned of a “horrific” couple of weeks ahead.

His sobering comments came as a number of countries said they would extend lockdowns, which have already gouged economies around the world.

Adding to the unease on trading floors was a report saying China had masked the true extent of the virus in the country, which is just coming out of an extended shutdown.

“The incremental news on the virus in the last 24 to 48 hours has been disappointing,” John Porter, at Mellon Investments Corp., told Bloomberg TV.

“The global economy has hit a wall, there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty, and that’s contributing to the volatility in the markets and the downward trajectory we’ve seen the last few days.”

US and European markets fell around four percent Wednesday, with investors ignoring data showing far fewer private-sector jobs were lost last month than were expected.

Eyes are on the release later in the day of US jobless claims figures for last week, which some estimates have put at a mind-boggling 6.5 million.

“With the global economy in free fall, markets have gone back to risk-off mode... as investors are struggling to look through President Trump’s ominous forecast suggesting Americans could keep dying into June,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes. With AFP

Topics: Stock Market , Philippines Stock Exchange , PSE , Philippines Stock Exchange Index , PSEi , ICTSI , PLDT , Asian stock market , coronavirus disease 2019 , COVID-19
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