MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Philippine shares closed higher Thursday for the third straight session, propelling the main index to its best finish in three months, mainly on foreign demand for telecommunications blue chips, traders said.
The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index ended up 15.65 points, or 1 percent, at 1,599.06, its highest close since April 28, when it closed at 1610.31.
Gainers led decliners 58 to 20, while 44 stocks were unchanged.
The index has gained 3.6 percent since Tuesday.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., or PLDT, was the most actively traded stock, setting a record intraday high of 1,305 pesos, before relinquishing some of its gains to close at 1,280, up 5 pesos, or 0.4 percent.
Traders said investors were positioning on expectations that PLDT will report strong second-quarter results Tuesday and also took their cue from the 3.4 percent rise in the company's American Depositary Receipts Wednesday, traders said.
Globe Telecom was also a market favorite, up 5 pesos, or 0.6 percent, at 850 pesos, also on expectation of strong first-half corporate results due Wednesday, traders said.
DA Market Securities president Nestor Aguila told Dow Jones Newswires that this is the first time the market saw foreigners buying aggressively into both PLDT and Globe.
"The primary reason is really the earnings,'' said Aguila, who noted that at a price/earnings ratio of 11 times 2004 projected earnings, PLDT is still considered cheap, with sustainable growth over the next three years.
Aguila said Globe's stock has an estimated 12-month price target of 1,025 pesos, while PLDT has a price target of 1,400 pesos over the same period.
Buying activity also filtered across all other market segments, most notably the mining sector.
The government believes the rationalization of the country's existing mining law will lure foreign investment into the country, which boasts the fifth-largest mineral deposits in the world.
Other active stocks included Ayala Land, which rose 0.30 peso, or 5.7 percent, to 5.60 pesos, after the company posted Wednesday an 8 percent on-year rise in second-quarter net profit. - AP
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