MANILA, October 14, 2005
 (STAR) Share prices fell slightly yesterday, with market activity limited to blue chips amid a lack of fresh leads and continued political noise.

The benchmark 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index was down 3.25 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,955.01, after shedding 0.3 percent Wednesday.

"The market is just being supported by foreign buying. If not for foreign buying, the market would have been much lower," said PCCI Securities president Francisco Liboro.

Weighing on the index were declines in Bank of the Philippine Islands, off 1.9 percent at P51.50, Petron, down 2.9 percent at P3.35, and Jollibee, lower by 1.4 percent at P35.50.

Limiting the market’s losses were Ayala Land, up 1.2 percent at P8.70, and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., which rose 0.3 percent to P1,700, both on foreign demand.

Liboro said the market has managed to remain resilient despite the political noise.

Left-wing groups and the political opposition have accused President Arroyo, who survived an impeachment bid last month, of planning to declare martial law to ensure she stays in power, but government officials have steadfastly denied such claims.

Liboro said foreign buying has been inspired by favorable share valuations and, to some extent, expectations of strong third-quarter corporate results, especially those of blue chips.

Third-quarter financial reports are expected to start streaming in later this month.

However, last-minute buying in index heavyweight Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) provided some support to the market after Moody’s put the company’s ratings on review for possible upgrade.

The broader all-shares index fell 2.63 points to 1,184.83.

Losers led gainers 37 to 23, with 56 stocks unchanged.

The peso closed at 55.875 to the dollar at yesterday’s trading.

"There’s not much action today because investors are waiting for new leads," said Rommel Macapagal of Westlink Global Equities.

Shortly before the closing bell, Moody’s Investors Service said it had placed the ratings of PLDT on review for possible upgrade in view of the carrier’s improving financial risk profile.

Conglomerate SM Investments Corp. P1 to P218.

Food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp’s A- and B-shares were steady at 65 and P91 respectively.

Philippines overseas workers remittances up 28 percent 10/14 11:56:10 PM

MANILA (AFP) - Overseas Filipino workers sent home some seven billion dollars to the Philippines in the first eight months of the year, a 28 percent rise over the same period last year, the central bank said Friday.

Remittances in August alone grew more than 28 percent to 954 million dollars, it said in a statement.

"Given the more than 20 percent year-on-year expansion that has prevailed since February, remittances are expected to remain strong going into the (Christmas) holiday season," the bank remarked.

Economic planners have previously forecast remittances would reach about 10 billion dollars this year.

The central bank said the "vigorous marketing campaign" of commercial banks to encourage more Filipinos to send their money back home through official banking channels accounted for the increase, along with the growing number of Filipinos who are going abroad to work.

Almost eight million Filipinos, out of a population of 84 million, have left the country to seek work abroad, attracted by salaries that far outstrip what they could earn at home.

Their remittances are the Philippines' largest source of foreign exchange, propping up the country even during times of financial crisis.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore are the main sources of Filipno overseas remittances, the central bank added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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