MANILA, November 25, 2005
 (STAR) By Rocel Felix - Local oil companies yesterday cut pump prices anew by 50 centavos per liter for all products, the fifth time this month since the softening of world oil prices.

The latest price slash brings the total rollback to P2.85 per liter for gasoline and P2.60 per liter for diesel since Nov. 1.

Independent oil players Flying V, Seaoil Philippines and Eastern Petroleum joined the three dominant oil companies — Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Caltex Philippines Inc. — in reducing their pump prices.

Shell general manager for external affairs Roberto Kanapi said the price rollback reflects the downward trend in global oil prices and cost reductions are now being passed on to consumers.

Flying V, which advised its dealers to roll back the price of gasoline, diesel and kerosene by 50 centavos per liter at midnight, said it is an early Christmas gift to consumers.

"We will continue to roll back prices as world oil prices also go down," said Flying V chairman Ramon Villavicencio.

The oil firms also committed to retain the P1-per-liter discount to transport groups.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla had earlier said the government was expecting domestic oil prices to go down to reflect the downtrend in prices of oil on the world market.

Currently, Dubai oil averages $51.69 per barrel, which is significantly lower than the average price of $53.96 in October and $56.54 in September. Unleaded gasoline settled at an average of $61.84 per barrel this month from $69.10 in October and $79.40 in September. Diesel averaged $65.76 from $76.08 in October and $79.67 in September.

The price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), however, remained steady. Due to higher contract prices in the world market, LPG prices have increased by P2 per kilo since Nov. 1. From $519 per metric ton in October and $440.20 in September, the contract price of LPG rose to $549 per metric ton this month.

"With the expected softening of the international contract price of LPG next month, we see no need to pass on our additional costs for November to consumers," said Petron public affairs manager Virginia Ruivivar.

Analysts attributed the softening of oil prices on the world market to the US Energy Information Administration’s forecast of increased supply of up to 400,000 barrels of crude oil. The agency also expects an increase of 600,000 barrels in distillate stocks, including heating oil and diesel fuel, and a 1.2-million-barrel rise in gasoline stocks.

The supply forecast was further boosted by a statement of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that it would not consider cutting production unless prices fall significantly.

Shares close lower by 0.63 percent due to profit-taking 11/25 1:39:36 PM

Local stock index closed lower by 13.55 points to 2,106.10 Friday due to profit-taking in the face of long weekend. The All-Shares market also closed lower by 6.18 points to 1,274.42.

Most of the subindicators reflected this downward movement except for mining and oil, both of which ended in the green. Mining was the biggest gainer, up by 21.66 points, while the biggest lower was commercial/industrial, down by 20.75 points.

Trade volume was pegged at 1.09 billion shares worth 782 million pesos. However, advancers beat decliners, 42 against 38, with 43 issues unchanged.

At the foreign exchange market, the local currency was slighty weaker against the US dollar at 54.333 pesos as compared to yesterday's close of 54.300 pesos.

GMA lauds strengthening of Philippine peso 11/25 1:15:56 PM

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cited Friday the strengthening of the local currency, the latter closing yesterday at 54.30 pesos against the US dollar.

The peso has risen 2 percent in the past month and is Asia's best performer this year.

Traders said investor flows seeking high yields, overseas Filipino workers' remittances and the country's improving fiscal position are all boosting the peso.

In a statement, Pres. Arroyo said, "The peso continues to display its prowess against the other currencies in the region on the back of hardworking and patriotic Filipinos abroad driving alongside our domestic labor force—all for enterprising families in a strong economy."

"This is an inspiration for all our people to break off from the shackles of political turmoil and push the economic engine to propel our country to first world status in 20 years," she said.

She likewise said that, "The Philippine economic takeoff is imminent and let is not miss this opportunity of a lifetime to win the big stakes for a strong nation."

The peso closed unchanged at 54.30 against the US dollar Thursday.

The Philippine currency opened at 54.30 and the dollar was traded from 54.17 to 54.32. The greenback averaged 54.239 on a volume worth 547 million dollars.

Philippine imports rise 7.8 percent in September 11/25 10:00:09 AM

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine merchandise imports rose 7.8 percent year-on-year in September to 4.115 billion dollars due to higher crude oil prices, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said Friday.

Total imports in the nine months to September were also up 0.7 percent to 33.344 billion dollars.

The Philippines recorded a trade deficit of 516 million dollars in September, compared to a deficit of 175 million dollars in the same month last year.

That brought the deficit from January to September to 3.3878 billion dollars, down from 4.145 billion dollars a year ago.

The NSO earlier reported that merchandise exports in September fell 1.2 percent to 3.599 billion dollars, while exports for the nine-month period were up 3.4 percent from a year ago to 29.958 billion dollars.

Purchases of electronic parts and products, which accounted for 44.1 percent of the total September bill, dropped 7.3 percent year-on-year to 1.815 billion dollars.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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