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Shares decline as Jan. unemployment rate rises


PHILIPPINE STOCKS dropped on Thursday as the country’s jobless rate went up in January, dampening market sentiment.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) declined by 102.22 points or 1.52% to end at 6,609.27 on Thursday, while the broader all shares index went down by 36.47 points or 1.01% to close at 3,549.19.

“The local stock market gauge saw a downward correction after rising for six straight days, after softer local employment data amid relatively higher inflation, interest rates, and risk of a US recession,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message on Thursday.

Regina Capital Development Corp. Head of Sales Luis A. Limlingan likewise said that the PSEi declined as the country’s unemployment rate worsened in January.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority released on Thursday showed the country’s jobless rate stood at 4.8% in January, translating to 2.37 million unemployed Filipinos. This rose from 4.3% in December 2022 and 6.4% in January 2021.

“Philippine shares slipped as traders processed fresh job market data, both locally and in the US, and comments from Fed (Federal Reserve) Chair Jerome Powell,” Mr. Limlingan said.

US Federal Reserve Chief Jerome H. Powell told US lawmakers on Tuesday that the Fed will likely need to raise interest rates more than expected in response to recent strong data, Reuters reported.

“In addition, the rise of non-performing loans in the country, the first in 10 months, also dampened sentiment. These data added to the lingering inflation and interest rate concerns in the economy,” Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research and Engagement Officer Mikhail Philippe Q. Plopenio said in a Viber message.

Banks’ gross nonperforming loan ratio went up to 3.28% in January versus 3.16% in December, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed.

All sectoral indices closed lower on Thursday. Property declined by 82.04 points or 2.86% to 2,785.51; holding firms went down by 108.39 points or 1.69% to 6,302.80; mining and oil dropped by 153.41 points or 1.41% to 10,678.19; services fell by 13.17 points or 0.79% to 1,634.79; industrials lost 61.47 points or 0.63% to end at 9,636.32; and financials shed 9.07 points or 0.48% to close at 1,858.73.

Value turnover went down to P4.99 billion on Thursday with 880.58 million shares changing hands from the P5.46 billion with 870.39 million issues traded on Wednesday.

Decliners outnumbered advancers, 105 versus 72, while 52 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign selling stood at P438.27 million on Thursday, a reversal of the P12.27 million in net buying seen on Wednesday.

RCBC’s Mr. Ricafort placed the PSEi’s major support at 6,250 and resistance at 7,000-7,100, while Regina Capital’s Mr. Limlingan put support at 6,555.15 and resistance at 6,740.13. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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