Shares end lower as NG debt rises to fresh high

REUTERS

PHILIPPINE TOCKS nded lower for a third straight day on Thursday as the National Government’s (NG) outstanding debt hit another record high.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) fell by 0.53% or 36.76 points to end at 6,827.06 on Thursday, while the broader all shares index dropped by 0.25% or 9.06 points to finish at 3,580.32.

“This Thursday, the local market dropped by 36.76 points (-0.53%) to 6,827.06 as local economic worries take over sentiment while catalysts are yet to be seen. Investors digested the national government’s outstanding debt which rose 2.63% month on month to a record high of P15.18 trillion,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research and Engagement Officer Mikhail Philippe Q. Plopenio said in a Viber message.

Year on year, NG debt increased by 10.37% from P13.75 trillion in February 2023, Bureau of the Treasury data showed.

“Additionally, inflation concerns were heightened as the Department of Agriculture (DA) expects that rice prices will remain elevated until the middle of the year. With its latest move, the market is now near its 6,800 minor support,” Mr. Plopenio said.

The DA said on Wednesday that rice prices are expected to remain high until midyear as the agriculture sector reels from the impact of the El Niño weather event.

Agricultural damage caused by the El Niño has risen to P2.63 billion, affecting 54,203 farmers and 53,879 hectares of farmland, according to the DA. Rice was the most affected crop with 72,733 metric tons of damage, equivalent to P1.7 billion or about 65% of total agricultural losses.

“Philippine shares were sold down once again on fears that the United States Federal Reserve may keep rates higher for longer weighed on stocks,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan added in a Viber message.

“On the data front, investors are watching for important data releases this week. They’ll be checking initial jobless claims for the week ending March 30 to understand the job market. Also, Thursday brings the US trade deficit for February, giving insight into trade trends. But the big focus is on Friday when March’s nonfarm payrolls will be released, offering a key measure of employment,” he added.

Majority of sectoral indices ended lower. Services dropped by 1.26% or 23.71 points to 1,846.84; industrials retreated by 0.9% or 81.04 points to 8,890.03; property lost 0.53% or 14.85 points to end at 2,756.84; and holding firms went down by 0.38% or 24.95 points to 6,414.37.

Meanwhile. mining and oil rose by 0.56% or 46.38 points to 8,190.55, and financials went up by 0.26% or 5.39 points to 2,031.21.

Value turnover climbed to P4.38 billion on Thursday with 510.46 million issues changing hands from the P4.29 billion with 701.33 million shares traded on Wednesday.

Decliners beat advancers, 101 versus 77, while 53 names were unchanged.

Net foreign selling went down to P567.31 million on Thursday from P670.32 million on Wednesday. — R.M.D. Ochave