STOCKS START YEAR WITH A BANG: The Philippine Stock Exchange marked the first trading day of the year with a special bell ringing ceremony at the Ayala and Tektite trading floors. In photo are (from left) PSE treasurer Omelita Tiangco, director Amor Iliscupidez, president and CEO Ramon Monzon, COO Roel Refran and director Alejandro Yu.

Stocks hit new peak, peso at 6-month high
(The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The stock market picked up right where it left off before the long holiday break, finishing with another record high on the first trading day of 2018.

The peso likewise started 2018 on a positive note, gaining 12 centavos to close at its strongest level in six months on the back of strong dollar inflows, particularly remittances from overseas Filipinos.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 1.93 percent or 165.71 points to close at 8,724.13, starting the year on a high note.

The broader All Shares index followed suit, increasing 1.3 percent or 64.68 points to end at 5,054.65.

The local currency closed at 49.81 to $1 yesterday from 49.93 to $1 last Dec. 29. This was the strongest level for the peso since closing at 49.63 to $1 last June 15.

“Philippine markets resumed their bullish climb on opening day with a record high once again. Investors are continuing to make their bets on issues they believe will outperform for the rest of the year. Analysts are also awaiting the first round of key economic releases such as ISM manufacturing later today and the employment report on Friday,” said Luis Limlingan of Regina Capital Development Corp.

“Locally, our Philippine Manufacturing Index came out. Though it was slower than previous readings, it was still above the 50 mark and the 2017 average. Furthermore, it was already expected that production will be slower as some consumers already pre-ordered in preparation for next year’s anticipated price hikes,” Limlingan added.

Metrobank, in its weekly report, said the local currency continued to appreciate against the greenback as investors continued to cheer the signing of Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law by President Duterte last Dec. 19.

 “The currency’s slide and close below 50 to end 2017 could be taken as a bullish peso signal by the market as US tax reform and Fed hike story becomes old news and the Philippine tax reform development story gains further traction,” the bank said.

The US Federal Reserve is looking at three possible rate hikes this year as it continues to pursue its normalization path. It raised interest rates thrice last year.

 “While trading does not rule out further peso appreciation in the near term, the desk still expects a stronger US dollar against the Philippine peso for 2018, albeit coming from a lower base,” Metrobank said.

The Philippine Stock Exchange said 2017’s record high finish is just a start as it remains bullish the upswing would continue moving forward.

“The stock market recorded a stellar growth in 2017 making our market one of the top performers in the region. With the passage of the first phase of the government’s tax reform package and the government’s projected infrastructure spending providing positive support for the market, its prospects for the year remain upbeat and bright,” PSE president and CEO Ramon Monzon said.

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