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Market drifts listlessly in cautious trading

() - April 20, 2006 - 12:00am
Share prices closed flat yesterday after a listless session marked by profit-taking in overbought stocks, dealers said.

After opening higher following Wall Street’s rally overnight, activity eased off as investors exercised caution with crude oil prices hovering at record levels and looking to go higher still on concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

The composite index was down 1.99 points to 2,223.73 after trading between 2,218.46 and 2,233.29. Volume was 6.359 billion shares worth P1.520 billion.

The all-shares index rose 3.32 points to 1,369.06.

Gains and losers were equal at 47 each, with 51 stocks unchanged.

"A good portion of today’s activity was still concentrated in the mining sector where we saw profit-taking following recent sharp gains driven by the rise in metal prices," said Lawrence de Leon of Accord Capital Equities.

"Investors are expected to return to the market after these much-needed corrections but that may not happen soon because of inflation worries," he added.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) retreated P10 to P1,955.

Among miners, Philex A and B shares were down 10 centavos each at P3.80 and P3.85, respectively.

"Mining stocks have gone up sharply in the past couple of weeks" and that makes it attractive for "some investors to take some of their money," said Jojo Gonzales, head of research at Philippine Equity Partners Inc. in Manila.

Limiting the decline in the index, San Miguel Corp. gained on speculation a plan by the nation’s largest food and drinks company to sell preferred shares with no set maturity will reduce its debts due in a year or less, and trim its financing and interest costs.

Philex Class A shares’ equity in the nation’s largest mining company that are reserved for Filipinos, fell 10 centavos, or 2.6 percent, to P3.80. It fell 1.3 percent yesterday, snapping a 36-percent gain in the past five sessions. Its Class B shares, which have no ownership restrictions, fell 10 centavos, or 2.5 percent, to P3.85, extending yesterday’s 1.3-percent decline.

Class A shares of Lepanto, the nation’s second-largest mining company by market value, fell three centavos, or 7.5 percent, to P37 after sliding 2.4 percent yesterday. Its Class B shares fell one centavo, or 2.4 percent, to P41, matching a 2.3-percent decline yesterday. Both stocks have gained at least 60 percent this year.

Class A shares of Manila Mining Corp., a unit of Lepanto, dropped 0.2 centavo, or 6.7 percent, to 2.8 centavos. The shares have rallied 56 percent this year. – AFP

CLASS A ITS CLASS B JOJO GONZALES LEON OF ACCORD CAPITAL EQUITIES LEPANTO MANILA MINING CORP PHILEX A AND B PHILEX CLASS A SHARES
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