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Market declines; EDC leads gainers

Stocks fell for the second day, dragging the benchmark index to a five-week low, as investors bided their time ahead of a closely-watched US jobs report.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, lost 40 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 6,850.61 Friday.

The heavier index, representing all shares, fell 18 points, or 0.5 percent, to settle at 3,957.19, on a value turnover of P6.3 billion. Losers outnumbered gainers, 92 to 72, while 40 issues were unchanged.

Energy Development Corp. emerged as the biggest gainer among the 20 most active stocks, as it climbed 4.3 percent to P5.89.

Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., the holding company of the Aboitiz family, rose 0.4 percent to P56.85, while Jollibee Foods Corp. added 0.4 percent to close at P192.80.

Meanwhile, casino operators led advances in Hong Kong after a report said the government may unveil measures to support tourism in gambling hub Macau, while carmakers got a boost from cuts to the passenger-vehicle tax.

But trading remained quiet elsewhere as investors remained nervous ahead of US unemployment figures that could help determine when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

“It’s hard to say if Asian markets have been genuinely concerned by the payrolls report but there has been a modest risk off feel to today’s trade, although Hong Kong is seeing good buying,” said Chris Weston at IG Markets.

Data showing China’s factory output contracted by less than feared cheered Asian markets Thursday, sending equities and emerging market currencies rallying for a second straight day.

But the optimism fizzled in Europe and on Wall Street ahead of data that could help determine when the US central bank will raise rates for the first time in almost a decade, seen as a key test of the resiliency of the world economy.

Markets have been in a tailspin in recent months over concerns of slowing growth in China, the world’s second-largest economy and a key driver of global growth, which triggered the steepest quarterly losses for stock markets since 2011 in the past three months.

The turmoil in financial markets was a key factor behind the Fed holding off raising rates in September, but investors still expect the hike to come before the end of the year.

“US payrolls day has come round again, but amid a still lingering sense that it is global market (and) economic conditions staying the Fed’s hand at present, tonight’s September numbers might not be completely crucial,” National Australia Bank said in a commentary. With AFP

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