Shares inch up amid escalating US-China tensions

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SHARES closed a tad higher on Thursday, with no new leads to draw investors back to the market.

The 30-member Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) added 0.23% or 16.85 points to close at 7,350.58.

The broader all-shares index also went up 0.16% or 7.19 points to 4,455.20.

The PSEi managed to defy Wall Street’s negative performance overnight, in response to rising trade tensions between the United States and China.

“The Philippine markets continue to be perceived as a safe haven when US stocks fell sharply after the Trump administration announced new tariffs on Chinese goods, further escalation tensions between the two economies in the world, which some investors fear could morph into a full-on trade war,” Regina Development Corp. Managing Director Luis A. Limlingan said in a mobile message.

Mr. Limlingan earlier said that investors see the PSEi as a less volatile market since it is a net importer.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.88% or 219.21 points to 24,700.45, while the S&P 500 index shed 0.71% or 19.82 points to 2,774.02. The Nasdaq Composite index slipped 0.55% or 42.59 points to 7,716.61.

US President Donald J. Trump released earlier this week a fresh round of tariffs for $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, which now covers around 10,000 products. Mr. Trump said he’s prepared to slap tariffs on another $200 billion in goods in the future.

Meanwhile, most Asian markets closed higher on Thursday, mounting a recovery from the initial shock after Mr. Trump’s announcement on the new tariffs. MSCI’s index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan went up 0.53% during afternoon trading.

Locally, four sectoral indices ended in positive territory, led by financials which jumped 0.97% or 17.57 points to 1,824.08. Industrials followed with a 0.74% uptick of 76.89 points to 10,390.30. Holding firms climbed 0.33% or 24.42 points to 7,248.80, while services went up 0.03% or 0.55 point to 1,432.98.

Meanwhile, property lost 0.53% or 19.19 points to 3,582.08 and the mining and oil counter gave up 0.28% or 27.17 points to 9,681.06.

Even as the main index advanced, decliners still outpaced gainers, 106 to 84, while 46 issues remained unchanged.

The market saw some 2.13 billion issues switch hands valued at P5.53 billion, higher than Wednesday’s P5.16-billion turnover.

“While the PSEi ended above its recent high, it might be too soon to be overly optimistic as the index still closed at practically the same level. Volume was also light at only P5.5B — a clear breakout would need a large accompanying volume,” Papa Securities Corp. trader Gabriel Jose F. Perez said in an e-mail.

Foreign investors accelerated their selling, with net foreign outflows climbing P262.82 million from the P85.69 million recorded in the previous session. — Arra B. Francia