Peso snapped a losing streak; stock market fell 1.52%

The peso broke a three-day losing streak on Thursday, but the stock market returned to the 6600 level after the release of fresh economic data.

The currency gained 8 centavos to 55.24 pesos against the dollar, while the Philippine Stock Exchange’s benchmark index shed 102.22 points, or 1.52 percent, to close at 6609.27.

It was followed by the broader All Shares, which fell 36.47 points or 1.02% to 3549.19.

“In addition to rising unemployment, the rise in non-performing loans (NPL) in the country, the first in 10 months, also dampened sentiment,” said Michael Popenio, Research and Engagement Specialist at Philstocks Financial Inc. .

“These data added to persistent inflation and concerns about interest rates in the economy.”

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

Newspaper reports also reported that Philippine bank NPLs rose to 3.28 percent in January from a two-year low of 3.17 percent in December as a result of a policy rate hike to curb inflation.

Michael Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., also pointed to the NPL data and said news of Manila Electric Co. plans. to raise electricity tariffs “also affected today’s sentiment.”

Regina Capital Development Corp. Meanwhile, managing director Louis Limlingan noted that US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell repeated a warning that upcoming interest rates could be higher than previously expected, also spooked investors.

The peso opened at 55.25 pesos: $1 and fluctuated between 55.14 and 55.25 pesos. Volume dropped to $926 million from $1.021 trillion in the previous session.

In the stock market, participation was weak as net turnover was 4.89 billion pesos, below the year-to-date average of 6.46 billion pesos.

Foreigners were net sellers with a net outflow of 438.27 million pesos.

A total of 880.58 million shares worth 5 billion pesos changed hands.

All sectoral indices closed in the red, real estate fell 2.86%.

There were more losers than winners, from 105 to 72, while 52 remained unchanged.

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