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Stocks gain; index nears 7,000 points

The stock market rose for the third straight day Thursday on generally favorable earnings report and encouraging US data.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index surged 80.99 points, or 1.2 percent, to 6,963.44 on a value turnover of P8.9 billion. Gainers beat losers, 106 to 71, with 43 issues unchanged.  

SM Investments Corp. of retail tycoon Henry Sy climbed 4.2 percent to P938, while conglomerate Ayala Corp. increased 3.5 percent to P735.

Megaworld Corp., the second-biggest property developer, rallied 5.4 percent to P3.88, while Petron Corp., the bigger of the two oil refineries, advanced 5.2 percent to P9.90.

The broadly upbeat mood that has pushed global markets higher recently helped extend gains on most Asian trading floors Thursday following a lead from Wall Street.

Tokyo ended up 1.3 percent, Shanghai gained 0.4 percent and Sydney 1.2 percent, while there were also strong gains in Singapore, Wellington, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.

However, after a two-day surge of about 4.5 percent, Hong Kong retreated 0.5 percent in late exchanges.

“Globally it’s becoming risk-on,” said Ryoma Sugihara, head of equity flow sales in Tokyo at Societe Generale, in reference to rising confidence.

“We’re starting to see the bottom in US manufacturing, oil is rebounding, China is stabilizing.”

Energy firms were the big winners thanks to the recovery in crude, while there are hopes that China’s leadership will unveil new economy-boosting measures when they start a policy meeting at the weekend. 

After a nerve-shattering start to the year that saw trillions of dollar wiped off valuations, there are hopes markets have found some stability.

Confidence has been given a lift from positive US data on jobs Wednesday, China’s decision to loosen monetary policy further and talk of a deal between Saudi Arabia and other key producers on limiting oil output to shore up prices.

Payrolls firm ADP said the US private sector added 214,000 jobs in February, better than the 190,000 expected.

The report came ahead of Friday’s US Department of Labor February jobs figures and will provide some reassurance following weeks of worry that the world’s top economy may not be as strong as originally thought.

“The better US data flow continued to support the improvement in risk appetite in financial markets,” Sharon Zollner, a senior economist in Auckland at ANZ Bank New Zealand, said in a client note.

“Global markets have broadly had a much better time of it in recent weeks as speculation rises that the early-year pessimism was overcooked, particularly regarding the US,” she added, according to Bloomberg News.

Traders are also keeping watch on events in Beijing where the government Saturday heads into the National People’s Congress, where delegates will sign off on a new five-year economic plan.

The gathering comes days after the central bank cut the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve, its latest move to try to ramp up lending in order to kickstart slowing growth. With AFP

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