PSEi breaches 6,800-mark means BUSINESS

MANILA - (UPDATE 2, 5:16 p.m.) Philippine share prices on Wednesday surged past the 6,800 mark to hit a new record, joining a rally in regional equities after the Dow Jones industrial average soared to a new high overnight.

At the Philippine Stock Exchange, the benchmark index rallied 123.49 points or 1.84 percent to close at a new all-time high of 6,835.21, surpassing the previous record of 6,721.45 on February 28.

This is the 23rd time that the market has shattered record levels this year to extend year-to-date gains to 17.59 percent. The PSE index (PSEi) also hit an intraday peak of 6,842.97.

“Global markets are rallying on positive economic indicators, while locally, initial earnings reports of our listed companies have been generally better than expected. Given these promising developments, the sustained growth of the market finds more support that will hopefully lead us to reach new milestones,” said Roel Refran, PSE chief operating officer.

All sub-indices finished in the green, led by the 2.86 percent gain of the property counter. The holding firms index jumped 2.42 percent, while the financials and industrials indices rose by at least 1 percent each.

Advancers outnumbered decliners, 117 to 61, while 38 issues were unchanged. A total of 3.72 billion stocks worth P13.21 billion changed hands.

Actively traded stocks were Alliance Global, Megaworld, PLDT, EDC, San Miguel Series 2 preferred shares and Megaworld. Top gainers were Keppel Properties, Global-Estate Resorts and Touch Solutions, while the biggest losers were Synergy Grid, Central Azucarera and iRipple.

"The Dow hitting an all-time high had a direct effect on the market. World markets are rallying even with this concern about sequestration," Eagle Securities Inc president Joseph Roxas said, referring to the onset of spending cuts in the US.

Overnight, the Dow shot up 125.95 points, or 0.89 percent, to close at 14,253.77 on indications of an improving US economy. The Institute for Supply Management's services index grew in February to its fastest pace in a year, climbing to 56 percent from 55.2 percent in the previous month.

The rally in US stocks came at a time when there is a stalemate between the Republicans in Congress and the White House over automatic government spending cuts known as the "sequester."

"In the end, I think sequestration may be bad for the US economy, but it is good for equities. With the spending cuts, the US economy is not going to grow so they may have to keep interest rates low, which is good for equities," said Roxas.