Omicron—not Santa—came to town, marring last trading day of 2021 | Inquirer Business
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Omicron—not Santa—came to town, marring last trading day of 2021

/ 04:04 AM January 01, 2022

Fears over a resurgence in COVID-19 cases spoiled the final trading day of 2021, with the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) closing down over 200 points during a half-day trading session.

The PSEi on Friday fell 2.89 percent, or 211.93 points, to 7,122.63 while the broader all-shares index dived 1.68 percent, or 65.26 points, to 3,818.12.

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The benchmark measure ended the year nearly unchanged from the 2020 close of 7,139.71—a difference of just 0.2 percent.

“Omicron prevented that small Santa Claus rally investors were hoping for,” Astro del Castillo, managing director of First Grade Finance Inc., said in an interview.

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Trading was closed during the Rizal Day holiday on Thursday, when Malacañang announced the Philippines will maintain its COVID-19 alert level until Jan. 15 next year amid signs that infections were accelerating.

Investors turned risk-averse as the Department of Health on Thursday reported 1,623 new cases while the so-called positivity rate jumped to 6.6 percent, its highest level in months.

“Philippine shares closed in the red reversing previous gains after fresh economic data indicated a recent uptick in COVID-19 infections might put the economy’s recovery in jeopardy,” Luis Gerardo Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital Development, said in a note to investors on Friday.

Moderate COVID risk

“OCTA Research said Metro Manila is now at moderate risk for COVID-19 transmission as the region’s reproduction number and key coronavirus figures increased in the recent week,” he added.

The news dragged all subsectors lower with holding firms and financials plummeting 3.54 percent and 3.3 percent each.

Services also dropped 2.32 percent, followed by industrial and property, which shed 1.5 percent and 1.22 percent, respectively. Mining and oil tumbled 0.33 percent.

Volume remained at lower levels with 623.4 million shares valued at P5.38 billion changing hands. Decliners outpaced gainers, 111 to 73, while 49 companies closed unchanged.

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Ayala Land Inc. was the most actively traded stock as it defied the downturn with a 2.95-percent jump to P36.70 per share.

It was followed by PLDT Inc., down 3.1 percent to P1,812; BDO Unibank Inc., down 4.96 percent to P120.70; Metropolitan Bank & Trust, down 2.28 percent to P55.70; and International Container Terminal Services, down 2.44 percent to P200 per share.

Other active names were SM Investments Corp., up 2.88 percent to P943; GT Capital Holdings Inc., down 2.7 percent to P540; SM Prime Holdings Inc., down 4.51 percent to P33.90; Monde Nissin Corp., up 3.85 percent to P16.20; and Robinsons Land Corp., up 0.52 percent to P19.20 per share.

—Miguel R. Camus INQ
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