MANILA, MARCH 27, 2007 (STAR) Share prices closed 0.63 percent lower yesterday as cautious investors locked in profits while waiting for a fresh positive lead, dealers said.

The composite index finished 20.01 points lower at 3,150.04 after trading between 3,146.25 and 3,181.40. The broader all-share index fell 8.64 points or 0.42 percent to 2,029.45.

Gains and declines were even at 55 each, with 40 stocks unchanged

Turnover was 6.58 billion shares worth P2.88 billion.

"There are no new positive developments to perk up sentiment and some investors may be winding down their positions... ahead of the Easter break next week," said Lawrence de Leon of Accord Capital Equities.

"The focus was mainly on the third liners, particularly mining, and volumes are weak, indicating the lack of interest," he added.

Manila’s financial markets are closed on April 5 and 6 for the annual Easter break, as well as on April 9, a local public holiday.

Top-traded Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) rose P5 to P2,500, Ayala Land Inc. fell 50 centavos to P15.25 while Globe Telecom Inc. retreated P20 to P1,270.

Mining interests were among the day’s top gainers. Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co.’s A-shares advanced two centavos to P31 centavos while its B-shares were up one centavo to 35 centavos.

Food and beverage firm San Miguel Corp.’s A-shares advanced 50 centavos to 64.50 but its B-shares fell P1 to P73.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank), fell P1, or 1.6 percent to P61. The stock rose 6.9 percent last week, its largest weekly gain in five weeks.

Jollibee Foods Corp., the Philippines’ biggest fast-food company, dropped P1.50, to P55. Jollibee surged 9.7 percent on Friday, its biggest one-day gain since Jan. 22, 2001.

Elsewhere, Lepanto Consolidating Mining Co. Class A shares added two centavos, or 6.9 percent, to 31 centavos after a trading suspension was lifted. Its Class B shares rose one centavo, or 2.9 percent to 35 centavos.

Lepanto Mining, the country’s second-largest metal producer by market value, said its unit Manila Mining Corp. will develop the Kalayaan copper and gold mine in southern Philippines with Anglo Investments BV.

Manila Mining shares, which were also suspended before the announcement, jumped 0.3 centavos, or 11 percent, to 3.1 centavos. — AFP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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