The Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PCOMP) rose 0.6 percent to 5,005.75.
Banks: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI PM), the nation’s third-largest bank by assets, increased 4.4 percent to 75.20 pesos, a record close. The shares led gains in Philippine lenders on speculation lower interest rates will boost loan demand. Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (MBT) , the second- largest, climbed 4.8 percent to 86.30 pesos, the highest close since March 1997.
The stocks advanced as the yield on the 8 percent peso bond due July 2031 fell for the fifth day in six, dropping seven basis points to 5.66 percent, according to Tradition Financial Services. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas may pause after cutting benchmark interest rates twice so far this year to 4 percent, the lowest level in a year, Governor Amando Tetangco wrote in a March 10 e-mailed reply to questions.
“When interest rates are low, that’s the time when demand for loans pick up,” April Lee Tan, head of research at Citiseconline.com, said by phone.
Energy Development Corp. (EDC) , the nation’s largest power producer using geothermal energy, climbed 2.5 percent to 5.73 pesos, the highest close since Feb. 6, after CitisecOnline.com reiterated a buy rating on the stock.
“Energy Development’s valuation is still very compelling,” said George Ching, an analyst at Manila-based CitisecOnline.com. He forecast the stock will rise to 8.36 pesos in 12 months. Thirteen of 16 analysts recommend investors own the shares, while three have “sell” ratings.
SM Development Corp. (SMDC) , a builder of residential towers, climbed 1.3 percent to 7.31 pesos, the sharpest gain since March 5. Its parent SM Investments Corp. (SM) said the property company will start five new projects this year. SM Investments increased 3 percent to 659 pesos, the highest close since Feb. 10.
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