PSEi tracks regional rally, PHP stays firm vs. USD

MANILA-- Dovish comments from Federal Reserve officials after this week's rate hike sustained the Philippine Stock Exchange's (PSEi) rise Friday and the peso remained firm despite the increased demand for the greenback.

The country's main stocks index rose 0.91 percent , or 66.42 points, to 7,345.02 points.

A trader said the main index, as well as most of the sectors, tracked the regional rally on back of the comments by Federal Reserve officials, led by its chair Janet Yellen, of possible additional rate hikes in the rest of the year.

This after the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on March 15 raised key rates by another 25 basis points to a range between 0.75 percent and one percent, three months after doing the same in December 2016, as more signs of sustained growth of the world's largest economy emerge.

The increase in the Fed's key rates last December was the first since the benchmark federal funds rates were cut to between zero and 0.25 percent in December 2008 to help stimulate the economy after the financial crisis in 2007-08, which is the worst for the US after the decade-long Great Depression from 1929-39.

With the latest increase in the Fed rates, investors' hope for a sustained improvement in the US economy gained more traction, thus, the similar expectations for other economies, the trader said.

The PSEi's rise was followed by All Shares, which ticked up by 0.71 percent or 31.12 points to 4,417.20 points.

Financials led the sectors with a 1.84 percent jump, followed by the Property with 1.23 points increase.

Holding Firms, Mining and Oil and Services ended the week with hikes of 0.71 percent, 0.64 percent, and 0.63 percent, respectively.

Volume of trade totaled to 1.9 billion shares amounting to nearly Php 14 billion.

Gainers led losers at 103 to 78 while 58 stocks were unchanged.

The peso finished the week at 50.18 from 50.12 Thursday, which a trader pointed partly to higher demand by importers for the US currency .

"Apprehensions on the G20 meeting this weekend also made investors wary and this made the dollar more in demand," the trader said, referring to the meeting of government officials and central bank governors from 20 major economies in the German town of Baden-Baden.

The local currency opened the trade at 50.14, a tad better than the 50.19 a day ago.

It traded between 50.10 and 50.19 resulting an average of 50.15 for the day.

Volume of trade reached USD444.2 million, lower than the USD467.5 million Thursday.

The currency pair is seen to trade between 50.10 and 50.30 next week.

Source: Philippines News Agency