Stocks climb further as inflation eases in Feb.

LOCAL STOCKS climbed on Tuesday after inflation eased slightly in February, which could lead to a less aggressive move from the central bank.

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went up by 34 points or 0.51% to close at 6,705.12 on Tuesday, while the broader all shares index rose by 17.15 points or 0.48% to end at 3,590.21.

“With a slight improvement in the country’s inflation, investors were bullish as the index closed up 34 points. There are speculations that inflation has peaked and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) might slowly ease interest rate hikes,” Mercantile Securities Corp. Head Trader Jeff Radley C. See said in a Viber message.

Philstocks Financial, Inc. Research Analyst Claire T. Alviar likewise said in a Viber message that shares rose as headline inflation slowed in February.

“The easing of inflation lessens the probability of a 50-basis-point (bp) rate hike by the BSP. However, this figure remains high,” Ms. Alviar added.

Headline inflation stood at 8.6% in February, slowing from the 14-year high of 8.7% in January. However, this was well above the 3% recorded in February 2022.

Last month’s print was below the 8.9% median in a BusinessWorld poll conducted last week, and fell within the 8.5-9.3% estimate given by the central bank.

The BSP hiked benchmark interest rates by 50 bps in its Feb. 16 review, bringing the key rate to 6%. The central bank has raised borrowing costs by 400 bps since May 2022.

The Monetary Board will hold its next policy meeting on March 23.

BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla earlier said they could consider an increase of 25 bps or 50 bps at this month’s review.

Almost all sectoral indices closed higher on Tuesday. Industrials climbed by 149.90 points or 1.56% to 9,724.89; property gained 30.49 points or 1.06% to end at 2,895.26; financials climbed by 12.57 points or 0.68% to 1,848.77; mining and oil rose by 37.76 points or 0.34% to 11,150.22; and services inched up by 0.68 point or 0.04% to 1,644.89.

Meanwhile, holding firms went down by 20.49 points or 0.31% to 6,407.15.

Value turnover went up to P5.5 billion on Tuesday with 1.82 billion shares changing hands from the P4.75 billion with 659.95 million issues traded on Monday.

Advancers outnumbered decliners, 102 to 84, while 48 names closed unchanged.

Net foreign buying climbed to P127.75 million on Tuesday from P5.6 million on Monday.

Philstocks Financial’s Ms. Alviar said investors will continue to monitor listed firms’ financial results for leads for the rest of the week.

Mercantile Securities’ Mr. See put the PSEi’s support levels at 6,657, 6,533, and 6,368 and resistance at 6,763, 6,800, and 7,000. — J.I.D. Tabile