Stock market up slightly; SM Prime, Meralco climb

Stocks rose slightly Friday, lifted by last-minute buying that erased losses in the early session of trading.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 4.8 points, or 0.08 percent, to 6,197.38 on a value turnover of P5.2 billion. Losers, however, beat gainers, 115 to 82, with 47 issues unchanged.

SM Prime Holdings Inc. of the Sy Group advanced 4.6 percent to P31.90, while Manila Electric Co., the biggest retailer of electricity, climbed 2.9 percent to P278. 

JG Summit Holdings Inc. of the Gokongwei Group rose 2.5 percent to P69.70, but major property developer Ayala Land Inc. fell 2.9 percent to P32.

The rest of Asian markets sank Friday as rising virus infection rates across the world put the brakes on the latest rally.

Equities have shown a healthy resilience to the rapid spread of the disease around the world, with hopes for the economic recovery, the easing of lockdowns and government largesse providing crucial support.

But several days of figures showing a record number of new cases in populous US states including Florida, Texas and California―leading to the reimposition of containment measures―were beginning to sink in.

The Dow fell more than one percent and the S&P 500 also dropped, with traders unmoved by data showing the number of US workers filing for unemployment benefits last week fell by 99,000.

Analysts warned the figure remained high and the latest re-closures in some states could lead to fresh layoffs.

Asia tracked the New York losses, with profit-taking also playing a part after a broadly strong week.

Hong Kong led the selling, diving more than two percent as a fresh outbreak in the city prompted authorities to reimpose measures including the closure of schools.

Tokyo ended 1.1 percent down and Shanghai, which has been surging over the past week, lost two percent with Bloomberg News reporting that state-backed funds were easing back on their investments to put a brake on the rally.

Sydney slipped 0.6 percent and Seoul shed 0.8 percent while Taipei dropped one percent, with losses also seen in Wellington, Mumbai and Jakarta.

A lockdown in Australia’s second-biggest city Melbourne and the sprouting of new clusters in Hong Kong, which had gone weeks without any new cases, added to the worry.

Analysts also pointed out that while global markets have enjoyed healthy gains, those have mostly come thanks to traders moving into tech firms, which are more likely to benefit from further lockdowns.

This is reflected in the tech-heavy Nasdaq index on Wall Street hitting multiple record highs over the past week, including Thursday.

The US saw 65,551 new coronavirus cases, a record for a 24-hour period, with top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci calling for a pause in states’ reopenings, though he added: “I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down.”

Donald Trump, who has openly said he disagrees with Fauci, has downplayed the spike in cases, saying the rise was because more testing was being carried out.

“Optimism is giving way to de-risking into the weekend as there is no way to sugar-coat, let alone the Fed papering over (with a financial back-stop), the new daily COVID-19 cases,” said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp. With AFP

Topics: Philippine Stock Exchange Index , Meralco , SM Prime Holdings Inc , JG Summit Holdings Inc , Anthony Fauci
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