Peso ends losing streak; stock market drops 1.52%

By Ed Paolo Salting and Niña Myka Pauline Arceo | The Manila Times
March 10, 2023

THE peso snapped a three-day losing streak on Thursday but the stock market slipped back to the 6,600 level following fresh economic data releases.

The currency strengthened by 8 centavos to P55.24 versus the dollar, while the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index shed 102.22 points, or 1.52 percent, to close at 6,609.27.

The broader All Shares followed with a 36.47-point or 1.02-percent drop to 3,549.19.

“In addition to the rise in unemployment, the rise of non-performing loans (NPL) in the country, the first in 10 months, also dampened sentiment as well,” Mikhail Plopenio, research and engagement officer at Philstocks Financial Inc., said.

“These data added to the lingering inflation and interest rate concerns in the economy.”

The Philippine Statistics Authority on Thursday announced that unemployment had worsened to 4.8 percent in January from 4.3 percent a month earlier. Underemployment, a measure of job quality, also fell to 14.1 percent from 12.6 percent in December.

Newspaper reports also said that the NPL ratio of Philippine banks had risen to 3.28 percent in January from December’s two-year low of 3.17 percent in the wake of policy rate hikes aimed at tempering inflation.

Michael Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., also pointed to the NPL data and said that news of Manila Electric Co.’s plans to increase power rates “also weighed on today’s sentiment as well.”

Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis Limlingan, meanwhile, noted that US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterating a warning that forthcoming interest rates could be higher than previously anticipated also spooked investors.

The peso opened trading at P55.25:$1 and ranged from P55.14 to P55.25. Volume eased to $926 million from $1.021 trillion in the previous session.

At the stock market, participation was weak as net value turnover stood at P4.89 billion, below the year-to-date average of P6.46 billion.

Foreigners were net sellers with net outflows amounting to P438.27 million.

Just 880.58 million shares worth P5 billion changed hands.

Sectoral indices all closed in the red, with property plunging by 2.86 percent.

Decliners outnumbered gainers, 105 to 72, while 52 remained unchanged.