Stocks hit a new record for the 21st time this year, with the benchmark index climbing above the 6,700-point mark, amid improving prospects in Asian markets.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index, the 30-company benchmark, rose 36 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 6,721.33 on Monday.  Value turnover amounted to P7.8 billion.

The heavier index, representing all shares, also added 33 points, or 0.8 percent, to settle at 4,176.94, also a new record, as gainers led losers, 112 to 55, with 43 issues unchanged.

All the six counters ended in the green, led by industrial and services sectors.  Century Properties Group Inc. emerged as the biggest gainer among the 20 most active stocks, as it jumped 11.6 percent to P2.40.

Property developer Megaworld Corp. rose 4.2 percent to P4 while Robinsons Land Corp. added 3.4 percent to P22.75.

Ayala Corp. gained 3.3 percent to P590 while water unit Manila Water Co. Inc. advanced 4.2 percent to P36.30.

Energy Development Corp., which booked a recurring net income of P9.9 billion in 2012, climbed 2.4 percent to P7.59.

Meanwhile, Japanese stocks led Asian markets higher Monday, jumping on a report that the prime minister’s pick for the next central bank governor will be a strong advocate of loose monetary policy aimed at reviving the moribund economy.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 2 percent to 11,612.22 and the yen dropped against the dollar after Kyodo News, citing several unnamed government sources, reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to nominate Haruhiko Kuroda as the next governor of the Bank of Japan.

Other Asian markets were more subdued. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was nearly unchanged at 22,783.71 and South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.2 percent at 2,015.66.

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 5,051.40. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also rose.

Mainland Chinese stocks pared their gains, with the Shanghai composite index up 0.3 percent to 2,321.12 and the smaller Shenzhen composite index rising 0.3 percent to 950.60, after a survey showed manufacturing activity declined.

Kuroda is an Oxford-educated former vice minister of finance who is currently president of the Asian Development Bank. He is known as an advocate of aggressive monetary easing to overcome chronic deflation favored by Abe to boost the country out of its economic slump, the Japanese news agency said.

“The market has become very excited over this news as he will be a market-friendly choice,” Chris Weston of IG Markets wrote in a commentary. Abe was expected to announce the plan later Monday, said reports by NHK television and major newspapers, including the Nikkei, or Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan’s leading financial newspaper.

Japan’s government wants to boost inflation to pull the economy out of its two-decade stagnation, and investors believe that will result in a weaker yen, which would boost the country’s exporters and also put upward pressure on prices. In other currency trading, the euro edged up to $1.319 from $1.318.

Source: Manila Standard Today | February 26, 2013