Market rises; DITO, ICTSI lead gainers


Stocks rose for a second day with focus on the Federal Reserve’s crucial policy meeting, which comes against a backdrop of heightened inflation fears fueled by an expected surge in economic activity this year.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, gained 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 6,566.83 Wednesday, as five of the six subsectoral indices ended in the green.

The broader all share index also picked up 10 points, or 0.3 percent, to settle at 3,964.78, on a value turnover of P6.85 billion.

Gainers outnumbered losers, 122 to 94, while 47 issues were unchanged.

Eleven of the 20 most active stocks ended in the green, led by Prime Media Holdings Inc. which surged 47 percent to P4.20.

DITO CME Holdings Corp. climbed 4.5 percent to P10.64, while International Container Terminal Services Inc. advanced 2.1 percent to P127.60.  Jollibee Foods Corp. was also up 2 percent to P185.

Meanwhile, Asian investors drifted away Wednesday While the battle against coronavirus continues to rage and some countries re-impose containment measures, the rollout of vaccines, signs of slowing infections, and huge government and central bank largesse are providing massive support to equities.

But that has also raised concerns about soaring prices and the prospect the Fed will have to wind back the loose monetary policies—including record low interest rates—that have powered a year-long rally.

US benchmark 10-year Treasury yields—a guide to future interest rates—have risen to a one-year high in recent weeks.

Highlighting the importance of the issue to markets, a survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that the virus as not traders’ main concern now.

“That honor goes to higher-than-expected inflation, with a bond market tantrum at number two,” said Axi strategist Stephen Innes. “So indeed, inflation tops the markets new ‘Wall of Worry’.”

With that in mind, the end of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting later in the day and boss Jerome Powell’s comments have taken on increasing significance.

“The Fed will be loath to send any hawkish signal,” Innes added. “Still, the board faces a tricky balancing act as incorporating the US stimulus into their forecast will lower unemployment and push inflation over two percent in 2023.” 

He added that this could mean a rate hike in two years.

After a tepid lead from Wall Street, Asia struggled, with Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai barely moved, while Sydney, Seoul, Mumbai, Taipei, Jakarta, Bangkok and Wellington all fell. Singapore and Manila edged up. With AFP

“Most asset classes (are) contenting themselves to march on the spot ahead of the… meeting,” said OANDA’s Jeffrey Halley.

And Tapas Strickland, at National Australia Bank, added: “There is the potential for large moves in either direction with Powell needing to walk a fine line of acknowledging the improvement (in the US economy), but also that the Fed isn’t intending on changing its policy guidance.” With AFP

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