Over P900B in stock market value wiped out

MORE than P900 billion in stock market value was wiped out Thursday, March 12, as the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) plummeted to its lowest level in seven years over coronavirus fears.

The main-share index plunged by 9.71 percent or 616.99 points to close at 5,736.27, the lowest since December 18, 2012.

Shortly before the market closed, the index dived by 10.33 percent to 5,697.13, triggering the circuit breaker rule.

This rule, which was approved by the PSE Board in September 2008, halts trading for 15 minutes if the PSEi falls by at least 10 percent compared to the previous day’s close.

Trading was halted from 2:53 p.m. to 3:08 p.m.

“This is only the second time that the circuit breaker was triggered since the measure was adopted in September 2008. First instance was on October 27, 2008,” the PSE said in a Twitter post.

On October 27, 2008, the market crashed, with the index falling by 12.27 percent on reports that the Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy, triggering a global financial crisis.

The March 12, 2020 bloodbath occurred the day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic.

Rumors of a lockdown in Metro Manila also persisted Thursday afternoon as Malacañang announced that President Rodrigo Duterte was scheduled to address the nation at 6:30 p.m. on the same day.

By the end of trading at 3:20 p.m., the PSEi had settled at 5,736.27. Volume turnover was 981.13 million shares valued at P7.96 billion, with net foreign selling amounting to P770 million.

The mining and oil counter took the biggest hit, as it dropped by 12.76 percent followed by property (lower by 10.82 percent), financials (down 10.12 percent), and holding firms (10.03 percent).

The most active stocks were all in red, with JG Summit Holdings Inc. posting the biggest drop in share value at 14.64 percent to P53.65, followed by Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, whose shares decreased 12.57 percent to P3.06, and SM Investments Corp., down 12.22 percent to P790.

Other big losers were BDO Unibank, Ayala Land Inc, SM Prime Holdings Inc., International Container Terminal , BPI and Manila Electric Company. Their share prices fell by 10 percent to nearly 12 percent.

The President confirmed the rumors of a lockdown when he addressed the nation at around 9 p.m. Thursday.

Beginning March 15 until April 14, no land, domestic air and domestic sea travel will be allowed to and from Metro Manila. Large gatherings are prohibited. Classes are suspended in all levels until April 1.

Private companies are encouraged to allow employees to work from home. Government offices, except the health and emergency frontline agencies, will have skeletal workforces only.

Mass transits MRT and LRT will continue to operate while manufacturing, retail and services establishments are also enjoined to continue operations.

As of March 12, five of 52 Covid-19 patients in the Philippines have succumbed to the disease. The country is under a State of Public Health Emergency and Code Red sub-level 2 alert has been raised. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)