The stock market spent most of Thursday in 7,500 territory, threatening to hit a one-year low, before last-minute buying allowed it to limit losses for the day.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi), which hit an intraday low of 7,537.43, managed regain some ground to close at 7,682.24, still 110.89 points or 1.42 percent down from the previous day.

The index opened lower from Tuesday but staged an early rally to 7,742.44. It was downhill from there, however, with a return to the 7,700 level — and the day’s peak of 7,756.40 — only managed in the final hours of trading.

The broader All Shares, meanwhile, declined 1.16 percent or 54.93 points to finish at 4,665.65.

Foreign selling spiked with the net result of P2.66 billion driving the day’s decline. An analyst said investors were moving money out in anticipation of fresh US Federal Reserve rate hikes.

“They plan to raise rates so investors are shifting funds from emerging markets to US treasuries,” Timson Securities, Inc. equity trader Jervin de Celis said.

Concerns over a possible overheating of the Philippine economy also weighed on investor sentiment, he added.
First Grade Finance, Inc. Managing Director Astro del Castillo pointed to foreign selling and worries on inflation, and also noted that one broker “had continued to sell down the market as observed by market players.”

Given Thursday’s steep drop, del Castillo said a technical correction should be expected and “we may see some bounce for tomorrow (Friday)”.

The PSEI’s fall contrasted with gains elsewhere in Asia, with the Nikkei, Hang Seng and Shanghai indices up 0.2 percent, 1.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively as energy firms tracked a surge in oil prices and as fears over Syria and a possible US-China trade war eased.

Fresh hopes that Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un would hold a historic summit within months also provided some much-needed optimism.

Crude futures rallied on the back of data showing a drop in US stockpiles — indicating improved demand — and expectations that an output cap deal between Russia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would be kept in place.

Adding to the gains was talk that OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia wanted to see crude at around $80 a barrel as it prepares for a gigantic listing of part of its state oil company. Tensions in the oil-rich Middle East are also keeping prices elevated.

Wall Street was also mostly higher on Wednesday, with the Dow the only decliner following IBM’s disclosure of a disappointing 2018 profit outlook.

Locally, only the financials sector ended the day in the green, gaining 0.50 percent.

Other indices — with mining and oil the sole exception — fell by over 1 percent with property firms down the most by 2.22 percent.

Alliance Global Group, Inc. was the day’s biggest decliner among the most actively-traded stocks, losing 4.93 percent or 70 centavos to P13.50 per share.

Overall, more than 1.8 billion issues valued at P11.7 billion changed hands.
Losers led winners, 171 to 58, while 31 issues remained unchanged.