Stocks end 2018 below 7,500 mark

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 28) — The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) ended 2018 in the doldrums.

Closing at 7446.02 on the last Friday of the year, the local bourse was not able to climb back to the 7,500 level.

The PSE index began the year with a bang reaching a record high of 9,078 on January 31st. But by November 13 it had reached its year-low of 6,843.

As the index rode out the volatility that followed the Christmas plunge and subsequent recovery of U.S. markets, it did not benefit from its gains.

"A net foreign selling figure of P198M, together with a sell-down at the close led the index to end in the red. Note that this is despite some initial strength in the morning which could have been from U.S. markets closing in the green last night," said Gio Perez of Papa Securities.

Window dressing from portfolio managers was not able to salvage the index either.

"Philippine shares closed out the last day of year a few points below 7500, which translates to a year end performance of -12.76%. A late push in the form of window dressing wasn't enough for the index as most investors opted for profit taking," said Luis Limlingan from Regina Capital.

Still, analysts are optimistic on what 2019 might bring

DA Market Securities chief equity analyst Nisha Alicer said that she sees local stocks rallying past the 8,000 mark in the first half of 2019.

"We do think the market can still recover to an 8,200 or 8,400 base case scenario. Optimistically though, we can still look at much higher highs for the index but we will have to see how the major factors that affect our market today turn out," she said.

MRC Allied President and CEO Augusto Cosio suggested investing in companies that have export potential because of growth prospects in the manufacturing sector. He added that the food and beverages sub-index might also do well due to election-related spending.

"Exports have been relatively flat, as a matter of fact, negative based on recent reports. So that has to improve," Cosio said.

Given the risks that will persist in 2019, analysts encourage investors to look for other possible placements besides stocks. Other options are bonds, government securities and dollar accounts.

CNN Philippines' Sandra Zialcita contributed to this report