MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) was the top performer among Southeast Asian markets in the first quarter of the year, thanks to its strong fundamentals and wide ranging reforms that have allowed it to stay afloat amid the global economic crisis.
Data from the PSE’s research group showed that the 30-company PSEi, the main barometer of overall stock market performance, rose 6.05 percent, outperforming most ASEAN exchanges from January to March 2009.
As of the end of the first quarter, the PSE closed 1,986,22 points, up from 1,872.85 the previous year.
“We are not spared from the wrath of the contagion yet our strong fundamentals have kept our heads above water where others have sunk in the recession whirlpool,” said PSE president and chief executive officer Francis Lim.
“I believe the reforms that have been put in place in the past years have allowed us to enter the global recession from a position of strength.
Hopefully, our growth momentum can allow us to once more recover from the financial storm at a faster pace, the same way we did during the 1997 Asian financial crisis,” Lim added.
Except for the Jakarta Composite index which closed 5.8 percent higher during the period under review, the rest of the region sustained losses.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite index slid 0.48 percent while the Straits Times Index of Singapore dipped 3.5 percent.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index fell 4.1 percent while the Vietnam Stock Index (VN) plunged 11.07 percent.
In March alone, the PSEi rose 6.09 percent, its biggest month-on-month gain in almost a year-and-a-half.
At the close of trades yesterday, the PSEi’s closing level of 2,043.20 reflected a year-to-date growth of 9.1 percent.
The domestic market capitalization of listed companies in March reached P2.66 trillion, the highest end-month level since P2.61 trillion in October 2008. It was also 7.5 percent higher than the end-December domestic capitalization of P2.47 trillion, but lower than its March 2008 level of P3.52 trillion.
Value turnover has also been steadily going up this year. From a mere P1.49 billion average turnover per day in January, it grew to P1.76 billion in February and swelled to P2.5 billion a day in March. Given the rising index, the increasing flow of money into equities lends credence to the advance.
“The figures however, bear out what we have been hoping for all along, that investors recognize the positive impact of the reforms that have been set in place and put strong weight on market fundamentals. We thank the government for the fiscal and economic reforms it has executed to help lift investor confidence. We at the PSE have also done our part in implementing reforms to boost stock market investments during these tough times,” Lim said.
“We understand the volatility of the markets during these times and how things can turnaround if we choose to slacken on the reform measures and advocacies we are undertaking to push the stock market forward,” Lim pointed out. –Zinnia B. Dela Peña, Philippine Star