Stocks post gains in thin trade ahead of holidays

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By Arra B. Francia, Reporter

LOCAL EQUITIES were up for most of last week, amid thin trading as investors stayed on the sidelines to enjoy the holiday break.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 0.64% or 54.03 points to close at 8,432.31 last Friday. Week on week, the index added 95.27 points or 1.14%.

The increase was lifted by the holding firms and property sectors, as each increased by 1.9%.

The market was able to log a net inflow of P290 million last week despite thinner trading volume valued at P6.85 billion, 6% lower against the week prior.

“Pre-Christmas spirit was broadly felt in equities trading especially after President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte signed the tax reform bill into law midweek, including 2018’s P3.8-trillion national budget,” online brokerage 2TradeAsia.com said in a weekly market note.

However, shares declined following the signing of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, as analysts noted that the market has already factored in its effects since deliberation began.

“The PSEi was trading between 7,100 and 7,400 on January to March this year and broke out of that range in April due to the government’s push for the TRAIN bill. So the PSEi’s rally from 7,400 to its all-time high of 8,605.15 was a clear indication that the tax reform program was already factored in the current trend of our market,” Timson Securities, Inc. equity trader Jervin S. de Celis said in a mobile phone message last week.

The TRAIN Act’s implementation on Jan. 1 will generate P130 billion in additional revenues for the government. This is the first of five packages of the Duterte administration’s tax reform program that will raise more funds for its intensive infrastructure program.

“The market found reason to cheer President Duterte’s signing of the tax reform into law and reassessment of its impact to corporate earnings is under way,” according to 2TradeAsia.com.

Overseas, most international markets ended in negative territory last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 0.11% or 28.23 points to 24,754.06; the S&P 500 index lost 0.05% or 1.23 points to 2,683.34; while the Nasdaq Composite index shed 0.08% or 5.40 points to 6,959.96.

Asian indices meanwhile ended mixed, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up 0.16% or 36.66 points to 22,902.76. The Hang Seng index rose 0.72% or 210.95 points to 29,578.01; South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.44% or 10.71 points to 2,440.54; and the MSCI Asia Apex 50 dipped 0.02% or 0.25 points to 1,333.51.

The local bourse will remain closed today as per Malacañang’s announcement to suspend work in government offices for the holidays.

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