By Rashmi Ashok
Oct 23 (Reuters) - Philippine stocks added 2% on Friday to end the week with their biggest gain since June, as the easing of restrictions in capital Manila and slowing coronavirus cases rekindled optimism and brought back foreign investors.
Broader Asian stocks recorded slim gains, after better-than-expected U.S. jobs data and signs of progress in talks for a $2 trillion stimulus deal in Washington supported U.S. equities overnight.
The benchmark Philippine stock index .PSI notched a near 10% gain for the week, as shares of food and real-estate companies rallied on hopes for increased footfall in malls and hotels after curfew hours were trimmed earlier this week.
"The economy continues to gear up for recovery as public transportation come back to 50% of pre-COVID-19 levels. If developments are sustained, PSEi is poised to match its pattern of seasonal strength in the last quarter," said Jennifer Lomboy, fund manager at First Metro Asset Management.
Lomboy also said foreign inflows were finally back, with the timely passage of the 2021 budget and early encouraging third-quarter results from some blue-chips also helping.
Data from Refinitiv showed foreigners pumped in about 557.44 million pesos ($11.5 million) into Philippine equities across the last two sessions, but remain net sellers of local equities so far in October.
Yields on the Philippine ten-year benchmark bond PH10YT=RR, usually seen as a safer investment than stocks, have also climbed recently, signalling the return of optimism. The peso PHP=PH was also trading higher.
Taiwan's dollar TWD=TP saw most of the action for the day, adding nearly 1% to continue its bullish run, after data on Tuesday showed export orders rose for the seventh consecutive month in September.
The upcoming shopping season in the United States and Europe and the work-from-home trend that has helped demand for the country's tech products should keep export demand steady, Taiwan's finance ministry recently forecast.
Data showed Singapore's main price gauge contracted for the eighth consecutive month in September, but was marginally higher than expected. Both, the share index .STI and the Singapore dollar SGD= traded slightly firmer.
Thai markets were closed on Friday on account of a local holiday.
In the week ahead, focus will turn towards third-quarter gross domestic product data from Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, where investors will look for signs of some economic recovery from the easing of lockdown curbs that had battered second-quarter performance.
** In the Philippines, top index gainers were LT Group Inc LTG.PS up 9.2% and Alliance Global Group Inc AGI.PS up 8.72%
** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index .JKSE included Garuda Metalindo BOLT.JK up 24.75% and Pollux Properti Indonesia POLL.JK up 24.71%
** Singapore's 10-year benchmark yield was down 0.1 basis points at 0.859% while 5-year benchmark yields were trading up 0.3 basis points at 0.467%
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0658 GMT
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(Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)
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