Philippine Stock Exchange CEO bullish on stock market in 2018

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The local stock market ended 2017 on a record high and is expected for another strong year in 2018 as the country undertakes new initiatives to attract more investors.

“In 2017, the market did very well. It has been a very profitable year I guess for the investors,” said Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) president Ramon Monzon.

After posting losses for two years in a row, the benchmark PSE index for the first time closed at a record high on the last trading day of the year on Dec. 29, rising by 23.33 points or 0.3 percent to 8,558.42.

Share prices closed in 2016 at 6,840.64.

This was the 14th time that the main index closed at an all-time high this year.

For 2017, the PSEi gained 25.1 percent.

Daily average value turnover rose 3.2 percent year-to-date at Php8.06 billion.
Monzon is optimistic that gains in stocks will be sustained next year on the back of the passage of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN).

The tax reform law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 19, is the first package of the government’s proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP). It was expected to generate additional revenue to fund the country’s investment requirements.

“We are banking, hoping to see higher market levels with the passage of the tax reform so we are looking forward to that. We are very optimistic about 2018,” said the PSE chief.

Monzon said the PSE is embarking on new initiatives to attract more investors into the stock market amid the increase in stock transaction tax.

He said it will launch short selling and securities borrowing and lending (SBL) by the first quarter of 2018.

“We are planning to launch new indices because we felt that with new index funds, plus the short selling capability, that would make our markets attractive to foreign investors,” he added.

The TRAIN raised the stock transaction tax from 0.5 percent of one percent on its gross selling price to 0.6 percent.

Monzon believes that a 10-basis point or 20-percent increase in the stock transaction tax will make the local stock market uncompetitive against regional peers.

He said investors will have to pay for the stock transaction tax whether they gain or lose money in the trade, saying “that’s very, very big for foreign investors who trade in the millions of dollars.”

“In developing the capital market, we have to be very conscious of what the other capital markets are doing in the region or even globally. The foreign investors will always go to a place where transaction costs are less because it is enough to make money on a trade. If have transaction costs, we become very uncompetitive with the other stock exchanges,” he added.

Nevertheless, Monzon targets facilitating PHP200 billion worth of capital raising in 2018.
“We targeted PhP200 billion for 2017, obviously did not make it. We were only about PHP150 billion or something. We will target again PhP200 billion until we get it,” he said.
The PSE chief added that there were four initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2017, noting “I’m targeting more (in 2018).”

BDO Nomura Securities has projected the local stock barometer to rise to the 9,100 level by the end of 2018, bolstered by strong economic growth story of the Philippines amid rising inflation and interest rate environment.

(Story courtesy of PNA’s Leslie Gatpolintan)

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