Philippine shares rose to their highest in nearly nine months on Monday, boosted by the government's revised infrastructure spending plan, while holiday-thinned trade dragged on a mostly flat Southeast Asian market.
In its first day of trade since last Wednesday, the benchmark Philippine Index edged up 1.4 percent, its highest since July 2013. The market was buoyed by news of the Aquino administration's revised Philippine Development Plan.
Among the more ambitious aspects of the plan are a reduction in poverty incidence from 25.2 percent in 2012 to 16.6 percent in 2016. Infrastructure spending is also set to rise to 5 percent of GDP compared to less than 3 percent in 2013.
Gains were led by property developer SM Prime Holdings and telecommunications firm Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co which rose 4 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.
2Trade Asia and AB Capital said investors that exited the market ahead of the Holy Week break have re-positioned, with a bias for blue chips, encouraged by improving economic figures out of the U.S. and China.
PLDT hit its highest level since October, with its biggest one day gain in 10 months. Most analysts are bullish on the telecoms giant, with 14 analysts currently with a "buy" call on the stock, and 8 analysts with a "hold" recommendation. The 12=month consensus price target is P3,150 per share.
SM Prime meanwhile has now gained over eight percent in the three days since unveiling its P400 billion, five-year development plan. It hit its highest level since November. Its parent SM investments is also trading higher.
Meanwhile Century Pacific has set the price for its Initial Public offering at P13.75 per share, on the higher end of its price guidance released over a week ago. The maker of Century Tuna and Argentina Corned Beef will go public with the second IPO at the PSE this 2014.
Other Southeast Asian markets edged up slightly on the back of weak trading activity following the Easter holidays, with Malaysia among the top gainers, rising 0.5 percent to hit its highest in two-and-a-half weeks.
"There's been a hangover from the long weekend and the markets are still lacking direction," said a Singapore-based trader from UOB. "People are settling down after the M&A euphoria from the previous weeks."
Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia were all slightly higher.
Markets in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand remain closed for the Easter Holidays. - With report from Warren de Guzman, ANC