PSEi up anew, PHP little changed as FOMC minutes show more Fed officials favor a hike “fairly soon”

MANILA - Investors sentiment was up Thursday, boosting the local equities market after minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting last January 31 to February 1 showed most of the Federal Reserve officials are open to hiking rates "fairly soon."

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose for the fourth consecutive day Thursday to 7,335.56 points, up 0.43 percent or 31.11 points.

A trader said bargain hunting remained high, with this session in particular boosted by the dovish outlook from the Fed.

Minutes of the recent Fed meeting showed that "many participants expressed the view that it might be appropriate to raise the federal funds rate again fairly soon if incoming information on the labor market and inflation was in line with or stronger than their current expectations or if the risks of overshooting the Committee's maximum-employment and inflation objectives increased."

Based on the Fed's review of the economic situation in the US before the recent FOMC meeting "labor market had continued to strengthen and that economic activity had continued to expand at a moderate pace."

It, however, cited that although inflation has risen it remains below the long-term target of two percent.

With these, the trader said investors were upbeat for a hike in the Fed rates by March, thus, the general positive sentiment in the local stock exchange.

All Shares rose 0.35 percent, tracking the main index.

Financials led the sectors with a 1.31 percent jump followed by the Services, 0.47 percent; Holding Firms, 0.45 percent; and Industrial, 0.43 percent.

On the other hand, Property fell by 1.20 percent and Mining and Oil, 0.08 percent.

Volume during the day reached 1.37 billion shares worth Php 7.28 billion.

Gainers led losers at 92 to 82 while 51 shares were unchanged.

The Philippine peso finished the day almost unchanged at 50.22 from the previous day's 50.23.

Another trader said investors were still digesting the Fed officials assessments on the economy and monetary policy based on the FOMC minutes but noted that there remained little hints on when the next rate hike would be.

The peso opened the day almost unmoved at 50.20 from day-ago's 50.22.

It traded between a close range of 50.20 and 50.26 and resulted in an average of 50.23, which the trader attributed to the Fed stance.

Volume of trade reached USD334.3 million, lower than Wednesday's USD355.3 million.

The currency pair is seen to trade between 50.00 and 50.20 Friday. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency