Stocks rise strongly as investors return to work

By James A. Loyola

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The local stock market firmed up after most investors came back from their holidays, with confidence boosted by gains in US markets overnight.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) gained 131.73 points, or 1.76 percent, to close at 7,632.28 as most sectoral indices advanced while 1.62 billion shares worth P3.36 billion changed hands. Advancers and decliners were even at 103 each, with 36 issues unchanged.

Asian shares ex-Japan were trading higher after the benchmark S&P 500 touched a record high on Tuesday, buoyed by strong earnings reports in the consumer sector and relative calm in the trade dispute between the United States and China.

Regina Capital Development Corporation Managing Director Luis Limlingan noted that blue-chip stocks were heavily beaten from days of net foreign selling at investors have begun to pick them up because of their cheaper valuation.

He added that bargain hunting also spilled over to some second and third liner stocks.

Blue-chips Ayala Land and SM Prime Holdings, up around 2 percent each, were among the top gainers on the Philippine index which was down more than 1 percent in the previous session.

Food and beverage products maker Universal Robina Corporation jumped nearly 4 percent while SM Prime Holdings, the biggest boost to the benchmark, partially confirmed its three-year expansion plans to sustain growth.