MANILA, Philippines - Local shares began the year in the green as optimism ruled market sentiment. The Philippine Stock Exchange index ended up by 0.57% at 4,397.08 on Monday, the first trading day of the year.
The PSE began extended trading hours, which ended at 3:30 p.m. Last year, trading hours ended at 1 p.m., but now there is an hour-and-a-half lunch break from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. The extension of trading hours was aimed at aligning the PSE with regional markets.
The broader all-share index also closed slightly higher at 0.65% at 3,064.87.
Morning trade was thin, suggesting it will take time for traders and investors to adapt to the new schedule.
Value turnover managed to pick up to P1.8 billion at the closing bell. US markets and other markets around the world are still on break for the New Year holidays.
One of the top traded stocks of the day was Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., which rose 1% to P2,568 on news it could finish its network upgrade ahead of schedule.
Meralco also climbed over 3% on prospects it will hit its income target.
Meanwhile, analysts expect the PSEi would breach the 5,000 mark by the end of the year.
Citisec-Online expects the PSE index to hit 5,400 by the end of 2012.
"During the pre-financial crisis, we were trading around that level, in fact even higher, so with interest rates currently so much lower, we think that it's not impossible to see the market going back to that level of valuations," April Lee-Tan, research head of Citisec-Online. told ANC.
Another brokerage firm ICG Securities forecast the benchmark to breach the 5,000 mark.
On Monday morning, the PSE conducted a ceremonial toast at both the Tektite and Ayala trading floors as the stock market opened on the first trading day of 2012.
"At its close, 2011 served as a year when we saw the index breach new historic levels, a year when investors together brought our daily turnover to new heights, a year when companies went to the stock market to bring the total capital raised over and beyond the P100 billion level, and a year when the market at one point, expanded to almost P10-trillion," PSE President and CEO Hans B. Sicat said.
These figures, impressive as they were, are but a testament to the even more impressive commitment, industry and effort of all stakeholders to move the market forward." - With ANC