Stock market declines; URC up

The stock market fell Thursday ahead of a closely watched speech later in the day by Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, during which markets hope she will provide more clarity on the bank’s plans for an interest rate hike.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index dropped 9.36 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,917.55 on a value turnover of P7.1 billion. Losers beat gainers, 96 to 73, with 45 issues unchanged.

Conglomerate Ayala Corp. declined 2.6 percent to P740, while unit Globe Telecom Inc. tumbled 3 percent to P2,380.

Semirara Mining and Power Corp. retreated 1.2 percent to P134.70, while Alliance Global Group Inc. of tycoon Andrew Tan sank 4.5 percent to P18.14.

Universal Robina Corp. of industrialist John Gokongwei bucked the trend, advancing 3.3 percent to P192, while technology issue Xurpas Inc. jumped 8.7 percent to P13.70.

The rest of Asian markets mostly recovered Thursday from the previous day’s sharp losses but Tokyo tumbled as investors returned from a long weekend to play catch-up, with auto giants hit by the Volkswagen scandal.

Stocks and other high-yielding, or riskier, assets took a hit after the Fed’s decision last week to hold—citing China’s woes and a developing market slowdown—fanned concerns about the US and global economy.

Those worries were exacerbated Wednesday when a closely watched gauge of Chinese manufacturing activity for September hit a six-and-a-half-year low, the latest in a string of results highlighting a severe slowdown in the world’s number two economy.

The news sent shares in Asia plunging—with Shanghai and Hong Kong down more than two percent—followed by losses in New York.

On Thursday, however, investors in most stock markets turned buyers, with Shanghai ending 0.86 percent higher, Sydney adding 1.47 percent and Seoul 0.13 percent higher.

But Hong Kong continued to drop, shedding 0.97 percent by the close. Tokyo finished 2.76 percent down as trading began for the first time since Friday after a three-day public holiday.

“Japanese markets have still got some catch up to do after the uncertainty that’s been washing through global markets,” Tony Farnham, a strategist at Patersons Securities in Sydney, said.

“The issue is gauging the extent of the slowdown in China and the ongoing debate about whether the Fed is doing the right thing” on when to raise interest rates.

Automakers were among the big losers on Japan’s Nikkei as the industry is rocked by the Volkswagen emissions scandal. With AFP

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