Local stocks end flat ahead of Fed policy review

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SHARES ended flat on Monday as investors chose to stay on the sidelines ahead of policy meetings by the local central bank and the United States’ Federal Reserve.
Local stocks end flat ahead of Fed policy review
The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went down 0.03% or 2.61 points to finish at 8,235.54, paring early day losses that saw the gauge hit a low of 8,169.

The broader all-shares index, meanwhile, dropped 0.67% or 33.70 points to 4,948.80.

“Philippine stocks traded rather flat to start the week as a series of central bank meetings will keep investors on the sidelines. Also US stocks closed just slightly higher on Friday so there was little impetus to bargain hunt,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile phone message.

Wall Street recorded modest gains last Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average adding 0.29% or 72.85 points to 24,946.51. The S&P 500 gained 0.17% or 4.68 points to 2,752.01, while the Nasdaq Composite Index closed unchanged at 7,481.99.

Asian indices, meanwhile, were mixed on Monday, as investors awaited the results of the United States Federal Reserve Open Market Committee policy meeting on March 20-21.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is also set to conduct its policy meeting on March 22.

Four sectors moved to negative territory, with the mining and oil sub-index plunging 4.63% or 519.99 points to 10,702.84. Industrials shed 1.02% or 118.70 points to 11,500.72; services dropped 0.54% or 9.36 points to 1,719.87; while property edged lower by 0.12% or 4.48 points to 3,708.55.

On the other hand, financials increased 0.50% or 10.73 points to 2,152.73, while holding firms were mostly flat, up 0.05% or 4.79 points to 8,208.06.

A total of 5.01 billion issues valued at P8.48 billion switched hands, lower than Friday’s P19.7 billion.

Decliners trumped advancers, 168 to 62, while 37 issues were flat.

Foreign investors were back in the market, snapping their 19-day selling streak to log net purchases of P173.73 million on Monday against net sales which swelled to P2.52 billion last Friday.

Leisure and Resorts World Corp. was the top gainer for the day after confirming that its $500-million resort and casino in Boracay will push through, despite the ongoing clean-up in the island due to environmental concerns that tourism has done to the area.

Meanwhile, shares in Acesite (Philippines) Hotel Corp. and Waterfront Philippines, Inc. fell after announcing that hotel operations at the Manila Pavilion will be suspended until after the full extent of damage by the fire on Sunday has been assessed.

“Investors kept to cash even if it meant selling shares at more than 6% today,” Mr. Limlingan said.

Most Southeast Asian stock markets were also subdued on Monday, in line with broader Asia, as investors waited for clues on the US Federal Reserve’s policy tightening pace. — A.B. Francia with Reuters