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Market to focus on data amid political tensions

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SANTIAGO JOSE ARNAIZ

AMID CONTINUED geopolitical tensions overseas, investors will look to several major economic data releases here and abroad for leads, but will remain cautious on developments in the military conflict in Syria and the trade spat between the United States and China.

After trading within 7,890 to 8,043 during the week, the bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) closed 0.57% weaker week on week at 7,899.98 points, pulled down by holding firms, which fell 1.5%, and the mining and oil counter, which dropped 1.2%.

“Bulk of this weakness was largely driven by ‘political rhetoric,’ explaining volatility in funds flow movement, especially in markets overseas. Set against this backdrop, investors are awash with cash, and are poised to reinvest in securities that can deliver healthy returns,” online brokerage 2TradeAsia.com said in its weekly outlook.

Last week, turnover slowed 20% to P6 billion on average. Decliners trumped advancers at 86 to 116.

For this week’s trading session, Timson Securities, Inc. equity trader Jervin S. de Celis said in a mobile message over the weekend that China’s gross domestic product data for the first quarter, slated for release this week, “will be the focus of investors and may also provide a cushion for our market amidst the escalating tensions in the Middle East.”

For his part, Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan cited the remittances and the overall February balance of payments reports slated for release today and on Thursday, respectively, by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

However, news overseas, particularly in relation to the conflict in Syria and Russia and the escalating trade tension between the US and China, “may still take center stage,” Mr. Limlingan said in a mobile message yesterday.

“For now, uncertainties will continue to prevail so long as this market has ‘non believers of a recovery phase,’” 2TradeAsia.com said.

Western powers said on Saturday their missile attacks struck at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons program, but the restrained assault appeared unlikely to halt Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s progress in the 7-year-old civil war.

The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Syria a week ago, targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities, including a research and development center in Damascus’ Barzeh district and two installations near Homs.

The bombing was the biggest intervention by Western countries against Mr. Assad and his superpower ally Russia, but the three countries said the strikes were limited to Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and not aimed at toppling Mr. Assad or intervening in the civil war.

The air attack, denounced by Damascus and its allies as an illegal act of aggression, was unlikely to alter the course of a multisided war that has killed at least half a million people.

Immediate support is seen at 7,800 points this week, while resistance is pegged at 8,000-8,070 points. — with Reuters