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Stocks decline as inflation quickens to 25-month high

STOCKS closed in the red on Friday following the release of the February inflation report, which showed that the rise in prices surged to a 25-month high last month.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went down by 1.12 points or 0.01% to finish at 6,881.37 on Friday, while the broader all shares index decreased by 4.68 points or 0.11% to close at 4,158.54.

“Selling pressures weighed on the market amid worries over inflation following the 4.7% February print,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Senior Research Analyst Japhet Louis O. Tantiangco said in a Viber message.

“Local shares closed relatively flat as the February inflation print came in within expectations,” Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan said via Viber.

Inflation picked up for the fifth straight month in February to log its fastest pace in 25 months, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday.

Preliminary data from the PSA showed headline inflation was at 4.7% last month, picking up from 4.2% in January 2021 and 2.6% in February 2020.

Last month’s result marked the fastest pace in 25 months or since the 5.1% in December 2018.

Sentiment was also affected by comments from the US central bank chief that their monetary policy stance would remain supportive of the continued recovery of the world’s largest economy.

“Sentiment was rather cautious throughout most of trading but turned into bargain hunting as investors assessed the statement of Fed Chair Jerome Powell,” Mr. Limlingan said.

Sectoral indices were split on Friday. Services went up by 15.26 points or 1.05% to 1,464.63; financials rose by 3.93 points or 0.26% to 1,477.62; and property inched up by 2.19 points or 0.06% to 3,479.81.

Meanwhile, mining and oil fell by 222.43 points or 2.45% to finish at 8,854.46; industrials dropped 47.37 points or 0.53% to 8,786.68; and holding firms declined by 24.25 points or 0.34% to 7,059.23.

Value turnover dropped to P7.73 billion on Friday with nearly P4 billion shares switching hands from the P7.11 billion with 2.7 billion shares seen the previous day.

Decliners outnumbered advancers, 135 versus 87, while 45 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling slowed to P595.70 million on Friday from the P627.63 million logged on Thursday. — K.C.G. Valmonte

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