STOCKS  CLOSE  TRADES  SLIGHTLY  HIGHER  AS  PESO  STRUGGLES AT  54.69

MANILA
, March 2, 2005
 (STAR) The Philippine Stock Market continued to climb Tuesday, the index closing 8.96 points higher to 2.088.95.

This as the All-Shares market and the financial, commercial-industrial and oil subindicators moved forward while mining and property lost ground.

Losers beat gainers, 68 to 41, with 38 issues unchanged.

Value turnover was at 1.4 billion pesos.

Meanwhile, the local currency weakened slightly agianst the US dollar at 54.699 pesos.

Philippines' debt hits 69.7B US dollars in 2004 STAR 03/01 4:52:29 PM

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines' national debt rose 13.6 percent to 3.81 trillion pesos (69.7 billion US dollars) in 2004, equal to nearly 80 percent of the country's total economic output and so among highest levels in the world, officials said Tuesday.

"The country's debt burden continues to be one of the biggest challenges," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said, noting that debt amounted to 78.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Purisima cited the latest debt figures as proof of the urgency behind President Gloria Arroyo's efforts to introduce fiscal reforms and privatize state assets in a bid to cover a chronic budget deficit and pay down debt.

He stressed that the Philippines would only resort to "legitimate measures in debt reduction," warning that "talk of debt repudiation are counter productive."

So far this year, international rating agencies Moody's and Standard and Poor's have both downgraded the country's sovereign credit ratings, citing the government's failure to push through measures to solve the debt and deficit problems.

The government said that of the total, domestic debt accounted for 52.5 percent or 2.00 trillion pesos, up 17.5 percent on 2003, while foreign debt rose at a slower rate of 9.7 percent to 1.81 trillion pesos.

It said the figures did not include some 200 billion pesos in debt linked to state-owned National Power Corp., which has been assumed by the government.

The rise in domestic debt was attributed to the issuance of government securities, while the increase in foreign debt was blamed on currency fluctuations and repayments of maturing obligations.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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