Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Philippine economic and corporate news summary JRH18
Forex - Philippine peso ends weaker against dollar on domestic concerns
Philippine central bank asks Congress to increase penalty on forex speculators
East Asian countries prepared to battle SARS
Philippine peso weak on non-economic factors, lack of inflows - Buenaventura
Philippine Treasury awards 13.37 bln pesos' worth of 5-yr promissory notes
Manila shares close sharply higher; key index at seven-week high
Monday, September 08, 2003
Philippine economic and corporate news summary JOW60
FedEx to keep Philippine regional hub - Transportation Secretary
Philippine Philex July copper/gold/silver output gross value 258.70 mln pesos
Forex -Philippine peso ends weaker on technical correction, political concerns
Philippines' RCBC sets 1.40-1.50 bln pesos FY net profit target
Philippines' San Miguel to buy 20 mln usdal complex in Thailand
Philippine Treasury awards 6.7 bln pesos worth of 7-yr promissory notes
Thai PM urges Philippine businessmen to back Arroyo
Thailand's Thaksin says he has little hope for WTO meetings in Cancun
Philippine central bank sees FY CPI up 4.0-5.0 pct vs govt target 4.5-5.5 pct
Philippine Roxas Holdings buys back 1.28 mln shares
Manila shares close firmer on PLDT rally; key index at 2-week high
Philippine Treasury sets maximum rate of 10.375 pct for 7-yr promissory notes
Philippines' Arroyo wants downgrading of farm subsidies in WTO meet
STOCK ALERT - Philippines' Meralco/First Hldgs/Benpres up on bargain-hunting
WHO chief Lee warns of possible SARS recurrence
Man resembling JI's al-Ghozi slain in Philippines clash
Forex - Philippine peso steady in early trade in the absence of dollar demand
STOCK ALERT - Philippines' PLDT extends rally on earnings prospects, ADR gain
Philippines' Jan-July tourist arrivals 1.03 mln; down 10.20 pct yr-on-yr
Philippines' Metrobank plans to sell more idle assets - report
Philippine central bank says to review external accounts target
Philippines' Belle to spend 450 mln pesos on Plantation Hills project -report
Philippines' BIR exceeds Aug collection target - report
Philippine central bank to borrow 500 mln usd from 7 banks
Philippines' Arroyo rejects US court injunction over Marcos wealth
September 3 -
September 1 - 2
|Philippine economic and corporate news summary JRH18|
BEIJING (AFX-ASIA) - A summary of Philippine economic and corporate news at 1000 GMT:
-WHO says suspected Singapore SARS case could be "false-positive"
-Philippine Treasury sets maximum rate of 10.000 pct for 5-yr promissory notes
-Philippines' new 10-seater vehicle tax system takes effect today
-Central bank asks Congress to increase penalty on forex speculators
-Philippine peso weak on non-economic factors, lack of inflows - Buenaventura
-Philippine Treasury awards 13.37 bln pesos' worth of 5-yr promissory notes
-San Miguel says recycling project denied BOI registration
-Singapore settle petrochem tariff dispute - Roxas
|Forex - Philippine peso ends weaker against dollar on domestic concerns|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso ended weaker against the US dollar for a fourth straight session on persistent domestic concerns, dealers said.
The peso closed at 55.195 after trading at range a 55.120-55.200 on volume of 114.0 mln usd. It closed at 55.130 yesterday.
Dealers said the peso has been relatively weaker against the dollar since the government released data late last week that export receipts in July fell 7.90 pct year-on-year to 2.97 bln usd.
Lower exports during a period when sales of Filipino products overseas should have started to accelerate suggests lower dollar inflows moving forward, placing the country's international reserves at a greater risk, dealers said.
However, central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura reiterated that the peso's weakness was largely due to "non-economic" factors.
He said the central bank is "not yet" in the market, although dealers said it was seen supporting the peso from falling past the 55.200 level.
"The softness of the peso is partly due to weak exports and prevailing political concerns. The ongoing Senate investigation (on the corruption allegations against the husband of President Gloria Arroyo) is not at all helping," a local bank dealer said.
Dealers said they expect the peso to weaken further "rapidly" if it breaches the 55.200 level tomorrow.
|Philippine central bank asks Congress to increase penalty on forex speculators|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The central bank has asked Congress to revise the New Central Bank Act to increase the maximum penalty on foreign exchange speculators and other violators of banking regulations to 500,000 pesos from the current 30,000 per violation.
Central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura said the higher penalties, among other proposed amendments, would give the central bank more teeth in exercising its regulatory powers over the banking industry.
He said the penalties under the New Central Bank Act or Republic Act 7653, enacted in 1993, could now be easily paid by erring banks.
"Our penalties are quite low. If there are violations, we ask if we can be given flexibility in the law. We have asked 500,000 pesos maximum per violation," Buenaventura said at a forum.
The central bank wants the proposed maximum penalty to be also imposed on reserve-deficient banks or to banks exceeding loan exposure to directors, officers, stockholders and related interests.
The central bank, together with the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp, had been asking lawmakers to strengthen their regulatory powers through amendments of their respective charters.
(1 usd = 55.16 pesos)
|East Asian countries prepared to battle SARS|
SINGAPORE (AFX-ASIA) - East Asian countries are fully armed to battle Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome if it resurfaces, Agence France-Presse reported.
The region is now on alert for a SARS resurgence after a Singaporean man showed signs of the viral illness. The results of the tests conducted by Singaporean authorities will be released later today.
But the panic generated by the first explosion of SARS is not expected again now that clear-cut measures are in place to detect and contain the still incurable virus, officials said.
"We are all ready now to fight the disease," said Shih Wen-yi, deputy director-general of Taiwan's Center for Disease Control, adding that hospitals had been notified to prepare themselves to restart anti-SARS measures.
"As we've had better knowledge of the transmission pattern of SARS, we're sure we can do better this time, if it is coming back," Shih added.
In Malaysia, Hassan Abdul Rahman, deputy-director for disease control at the health ministry, said "we are well-prepared for a resurgence of SARS."
"This is because we have prepared post-SARS outbreak surveillance," he said. "We are monitoring any instances of fever or infection among medical staff, who are at high-risk, in line with WHO advice. All hospitals have been informed."
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra attempted to hose down fears Tuesday that SARS may reappear, saying Thailand would wait before re-introducing any measures it earlier put in place.
"It's merely a suspicious case and it's unlikely that SARS would come back," he said, referring to the suspected Singaporean case announced Monday.
"For Thailand, we want to wait and see how the situation develops for a while," he told reporters.
In the Philippines, Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, chief aide of Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit, said the country had never relaxed its vigilance.
Screening of new arrivals from China and Toronto, Canada is still conducted at all international entry ports while medical authorities continue to stockpile protective equipment for health workers in treating SARS.
China has through its state-run press stepped up warnings in recent weeks about the possible return of SARS. Rumors of new cases prompted the government last week to issue a statement denying they were true.
The health ministry has said it has mapped out a working plan for the prevention of SARS in 2003 and 2004 but did not go into detail. Citizens have been asked to get vaccinated against influenza amid concerns that flu symptoms will fuel fears that SARS has returned.
According to WHO figures, East Asia accounted for about 96 pct of the 8, 422 confirmed SARS cases and 95 pct of the 916 deaths during the first outbreak, which peaked from March to May after first emerging in southern China in November last year.
China suffered the most, with 349 deaths out of 5,327 cases, followed by Hong Kong with 300 deaths out of 1,755 cases, according to the WHO. They were followed by Singapore and Taipei.
Taiwan lost 180 people to SARS, out of 665 infection cases, before it was finally classified as SARS-free on July 5, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak contained worldwide.
Singapore suffered 33 deaths out of 238 cases before being declared SARS-free on May 31.
Outside the region, only Canada was severely affected, suffering 41 deaths out of 251 cases.
|Philippine peso weak on non-economic factors, lack of inflows - Buenaventura|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura said the peso's weakness was due to "non-economic" factors and a lack of dollar inflows.
He said the central bank is "not yet" in the foreign exchange market, but it is monitoring banks engaged in such trades.
"We are not yet in the market," Buenaventura told reporters.
The peso averaged 55.166 to the US dollar to noon today versus yesterday's close of 55.130.
"Non-economic activities unfortunately do not help," he said.
Currency dealers said the peso is undergoing a further technical correction amid lingering pre-election political concerns.
|Philippine Treasury awards 13.37 bln pesos' worth of 5-yr promissory notes|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Treasury (BTr) said it has awarded 13. 37 bln pesos' worth of five-year promissory notes against an offering of 3.00 bln pesos.
The five-year notes fetched a coupon of 9.75 pct against the 10.00-pct limit set by the BTr.
Total tenders reached 17.90 bln pesos.
(1 usd = 55.166 pesos)
|Manila shares close sharply higher; key index at seven-week high|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed sharply higher as Wall Street's overnight gains helped extend the buying momentum, lifting the key index to a seven-week high, dealers said.
They said positive sentiment which sustained gains in Philippine Long Distance Telephone, after its New York-listed American Depositary Receipts advanced again last night, spilled over to other blue chips.
The composite index closed up 40.30 points, or 3.20 pct, at 1,299.33, after rising above the resistance level of 1,300, on volume of 303.89 mln shares worth 834.20 mln pesos. It traded between 1,264.54 and 1,303.00.
It was the index's strongest finish since July 22, when it closed at 1, 301.48. It initially breached resistance at 1,280.
In the broader market, gainers led losers 55 to 10, with 30 stocks unchanged.
Dealers said investors set aside concerns over the political environment and security situation and took advantage of the buying momentum sparked by PLDT's sustained rally.
At the Philippine Dealing System, the peso averaged 55.166 to the US dollar by noon against yesterday's close of 55.130.
"Wall Street's gains enabled the market to continue its upward momentum," Citiseconline.com analyst Mark Alan Canizares said.
The fact that there has been no negative news on the corporate front, while the political environment seems quiet at the moment also helped, he said.
He added that there have been signs of improving economic environment in the US, the country's major trading partner.
The market, however, is ripe for profit-taking given its successive gains, Canizares said.
PLDT was top traded and rose 45.00 pesos to 665.00 on volume of 222,240 shares. Its ADRs advanced 0.31 usd to 11.20 last night on the company's positive earnings prospects, dealers said.
Globe Telecom gained 30.00 to 690.00 on 61,880 shares.
Bank of the Philippine Islands was up 0.50 at 43.00 on 3.01 mln shares.
Ayala Land rose 0.30 to 6.80 on 11.06 mln shares while parent Ayala Corp gained 0.05 to 4.45 on 10.24 mln shares.
SM Prime was up 0.10 at 5.80 on 14.69 mln shares.
Manila Electric B, open to foreign investors, rose 1.00 to 22.75 on 1.76 mln shares, while A gained 1.00 to 14.50 on 1.75 mln shares.
Meralco's parent, First Philippine Holdings, rose 0.50 to 18.75 on 1.28 mln shares.
First Holdings's parent, Benpres Holdings, was up 0.02 at 0.61 on 38.97 mln shares.
The all-shares index was up 7.56 points at 809.10.
The commercial-industrial index rose 63.48 to 1,898.93 and property gained 17.83 to 572.30.
Mining reversed its earlier losses, closing up 42.49 at 1,278.63.
Oil was unchanged at 1.40. Banking and financial services rose 7.84 to 438.21.
|Philippine economic and corporate news summary JOW60|
BEIJING (AFX-ASIA) - A summary of Philippine economic and corporate news at 1000 GMT:
-Jan-July tourist arrivals 1.03 mln; down 10.20 pct yr-on-yr
-Central bank says to review external accounts target
-Central bank to borrow 500 mln usd from 7 banks
-Treasury sets maximum rate of 10.375 pct for 7-yr promissory notes
-WHO chief Lee warns of possible SARS recurrence
-Arroyo wants downgrading of farm subsidies in WTO meet
-Central bank sees FY CPI up 4.0-5.0 pct vs govt target 4.5-5.5 pct
-Philex July copper/gold/silver output gross value 258.70 mln pesos
-Philippine Treasury awards 6.7 bln pesos worth of 7-yr promissory notes
-Thai PM urges Philippine businessmen to back Arroyo
-Philippines' RCBC sets 1.40-1.50 bln pesos FY net profit target
-Philippines' San Miguel to buy 20 mln usdal complex in Thailand
|FedEx to keep Philippine regional hub - Transportation Secretary|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Federal Express is keeping its regional hub in the Philippines, Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza said.
He confirmed, however, that
"I was talking with the management of
Lina is the chairman of Airfreight 2100 Inc, the sole licensee of
Mendoza said the
Manila newspapers reported last week that
Airfreight 2100, in a statement, said it had signed a letter of intent with Guangzhou Airport Authority in China, but that is "a non-legally binding document, which enables us to gain access to information to enable us to assess the sustainability of the airport as an express hub for Asia."
"(Lina) made a courtesy call to the President and explained
|Philippine Philex July copper/gold/silver output gross value 258.70 mln pesos|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philex Mining Corp said it produced in July 1.69 mln kilograms of copper, 230,884 grams of gold and 256,893 grams of silver with an estimated gross value of 258.70 mln pesos.
The company earlier reported an output value of 222.20 mln pesos for June.
Shipments of copper, gold and silver in July were valued at 342.21 mln pesos, Philex told the stock exchange.
(1 usd = 55.13 pesos)
|Forex -Philippine peso ends weaker on technical correction, political concerns|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso ended weaker against the dollar on a technical correction, with greater demand for the US unit outpacing supply, dealers said.
The peso closed at 55.130 after trading at a range of 55.040-55.130 on volume of 75.50 mln usd.
It closed at 55.020 on Friday, as trading before the weekend also ranged at 54.980-55.130.
"There was a bit of demand in an otherwise illiquid market. This was quite amplified since there were very few trades," a dealer at a local bank said.
Dealers also said ongoing political mudslinging months ahead of the 2004 presidential elections curbed the peso's further improvement.
A dealer said corruption allegations against the husband of President Gloria Arroyo have "raised doubts on the credibility of some banks" after lawmakers conducting an investigation into the allegations said some financial institutions may have violated existing laws when they allowed the opening of several fictitious accounts.
An opposition senator alleged that Arroyo's husband held the bank accounts, although her brother-in-law later claimed ownership.
"Technically, the peso was due for a correction after its fast ascent to 54.600 early last week. Banks and clients who were caught short may be trying to bid up their reserves," a local bank dealer said.
Dealers see the peso trading between 55.000-55.200 tomorrow.
|Philippines' RCBC sets 1.40-1.50 bln pesos FY net profit target|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Rizal Commercial Banking Corp said it is expecting a net profit of 1.40-1.50 bln pesos this year.
The bank, in a disclosure, said that while it has yet to formally revise its original 1.00 bln full-year target, it is now expecting earnings of between 1.40-1.50 bln for 2003. It did not elaborate.
RCBC booked a first half to June net profit of 1.05 bln pesos, almost double the year-earlier figure of 508.00 mln.
(1 usd = 55.062 pesos)
|Philippines' San Miguel to buy 20 mln usdal complex in Thailand|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - San Miguel Corp said it has signed an agreement with Thai developer Amata City Co Ltd for the purchase of an industrial complex in Amata City, Rayong in Thailand for 20.00 mln usd.
San Miguel chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr and president Ramon Ang signed the agreement today with Amata Corp chairman Chavalit Yodmani and chief executive officer Vikrom Kromadit, a San Miguel statement said.
Visiting Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra witnessed the signing of the agreement, the Philippines' largest food and beverage conglomerate said.
San Miguel is looking to set up food and beverage complexes in seven Asian markets -- Thailand, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia and Taiwan -- as part of its regional expansion program.
San Miguel described the 100-hectare industrial site as one of the most vibrant in Thailand.
Its expansion into Thailand will involve manufacturing beverage products such as packaged water, carbonated softdrinks, carbo-natural drinks, juice, tea and energy drinks, snacks and feed mill operations.
The complex will be operational in 2005, it said.
"San Miguel views Thailand as a strategic investment site due to its huge beverage market, competitive investment and tax incentives, well-developed
infrastructure and proximity to other target markets like Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar," San Miguel said.
Cojuangco earlier said San Miguel intends to invest 100 mln usd in each of the seven markets it is looking at, and expects sales in these markets to boost the company's annual revenue by 300 mln usd.
(1 usd = 55.062 pesos)
|Philippine Treasury awards 6.7 bln pesos worth of 7-yr promissory notes|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Treasury (BTr) said it has awarded 6.70 bln pesos worth of seven-year promissory notes against an offering of 3.00 bln pesos.
The seven-year notes fetched a coupon of 10.250 pct against the 10. 375-pct limit set by the BTr.
Total tenders reached 9.730 bln pesos.
The rate averaged 10.187 pct with bids ranging from 10.000 to 10.250 pct.
BTr officer-in-charge Mina Figueroa said the tenders were within expectations, adding the Treasury's "comfortable cash position" is giving the agency enough leeway to borrow at relatively lower rates.
"We still have a comfortable cash position and we remain very liquid. We don't see the need of borrowing at higher rates," Figueroa told reporters.
She added banks have been "demanding" for the seven-year promissory notes because the instrument "can be used to improve their non-performing loan ratio" since promissory notes are booked as part of banks' loan portfolio.
(1 usd = 55.062 pesos)
|Thai PM urges Philippine businessmen to back Arroyo|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged Philippine businessmen to support their embattled President Gloria Arroyo, saying that would enable her to solve economic problems.
Thaksin gave his praise at a business forum, saying "President Arroyo has very strong leadership and courage."
"She was able to control the coup in 20 hours," Thaksin said, referring to the short-lived military mutiny by some 300 soldiers on July 27.
Asked how Philippine businessmen could help spur economic development, Thaksin said "the business community must give her (Arroyo) the moral support to do the right thing.
"If she feels she is not alone and the economic community is backing her up, she can solve the economic problems sooner," the Thai leader added.
Arroyo is facing mounting criticism from the opposition which is accusing her family of corruption and money-laundering.
Officials have also warned that instigators of the July 27 failed mutiny are still at large and there are still forces seeking to destabilize the government.
|Thailand's Thaksin says he has little hope for WTO meetings in Cancun|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he has little hope that the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico will result in major concessions for developing countries, Agence France-Presse reported.
"I don't hope much" for the Cancun talks, Thaksin said in a forum with local businessmen during a three-day visit to the Philippines.
He said that the Cancun meeting would "probably be a repeat of the Doha round" of WTO talks in Nov 2001, where developing countries pressed wealthy nations to open up their agricultural markets.
Thaksin said he would hope that the meeting "be more balanced between developed and developing countries."
He said the "ultimate goal" of the Cancun talks should be "how the developing world can develop under WTO."
Thaksin called on developed countries to open their markets further to poorer countries, saying this would help both sides.
"If you can open up the market, you will have more (in) investments than loans and grants," he said.
At the same forum, Thaksin defended his economic policies, saying that he was "bemused" that foreign observers could accuse him "a populist policy."
"A populist policy, so-called because it must be so liked by the people. The people like it, they find it beneficial so if they like the policy and benefit from it, what's wrong?"
He expressed confidence that Thailand would end the year with gross domestic product (GDP) growth of more than 6.00 pct, just six years after being hit by the Asian economic crisis.
He also cited the 19 percent growth in exports in the first half, sharp increases on the Thai stock market and in agricultural and industrial productivity, and the success in paying off a 12.29 bln usd International Monetary Fund loan two years ahead of schedule.
|Philippine central bank sees FY CPI up 4.0-5.0 pct vs govt target 4.5-5.5 pct|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The central bank said it expects the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to rise 4.00-5.00 pct for the full year, lower than the government's targeted range of 4.50-5.50 pct, as private spending and credit demand are seen improving moderately.
In a statement, central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura also said that the inflation environment remains benign "over the policy horizon."
"Despite the palpable impact of recent movements in international oil prices and bilateral exchange rates, the likely cost-push risks to aggregate consumer prices remain manageable, in part because the markets for international crude oil and foreign exchange have remained essentially stable, " Buenaventura said.
He said that the slow rise in the inflation rate in August, at 3.00 pct year-on-year verus July's 3.40 pct, offers authorities room to maintain the central bank's "accommodative" monetary policy, despite the peso's volatility.
In the first eight months of the year, the rate averaged 3.00 pct.
The central bank's key interest rates remain at 11-year lows of 6.75 pct for overnight borrowing and 9.00 pct for overnight lending.
It, however, recently scrapped the tier scheme on overnight placements by banks in a bid to mop up excess liquidity in the banking system.
"Given the relative absence of significant inflation risks coupled with moderately improving economic activity, the central bank believes that current monetary policy stance is appropriately supportive of the economy's growth objective without posing undue risks to price stability," Buenaventura said.
"The monetary stance going forward will continue to strike a balance between the need to guard against excessive easing and potential price pressures on the other hand."
Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri sees the inflation rate remaining "broadly stable" for the rest of 2003, thereby putting the full-year rate at the low-end of his 3.00-3.50 pct forecast.
|Manila shares close firmer on PLDT rally; key index at 2-week high|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed higher, pushing the key index to a two-week high, as further gains in Philippine Long Distance Telephone sparked interest in other blue chips, dealers said.
They said bargain-hunters also focused on positive financial profiles of select companies, including those owned by the Lopez family.
The composite index closed up 18.45 points, or 1.49 pct, at 1,259.03, breaching resistance at 1,250, on volume of 197.52 mln shares worth 528.68 mln pesos. It traded between 1,241.98 and 1,260.53.
In the broader market, gainers outnumbered losers 39 to 14, with 31 stocks unchanged.
Dealers were, however, still uncertain about the sustainability of today's gains given lingering pre-election political and security worries.
(1 usd = 55.06 pesos)
|Philippine Treasury sets maximum rate of 10.375 pct for 7-yr promissory notes|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Treasury has set a maximum rate of 10. 375 pct for the seven-year promissory notes it will issue today.
The bureau will auction 3.00 bln pesos worth of seven-year fixed rate notes today and five-year notes of the same amount tomorrow.
"This is the maximum rate at which banks are supposed to bid. Anything above that will be rejected," Bureau of Treasury officer-in-charge Mina Figueroa said.
(1 usd = 55.062 pesos)
|Philippines' Arroyo wants downgrading of farm subsidies in WTO meet|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Philippines will ask members of the World Trade Organization this week to downgrade farm subsidies and refrain from "other clever tricks" which have served as barriers to free trade, President Gloria Arroyo said.
"Our position in Cancun (WTO meeting) will be clear and unequivocal. We are for downgrading subsidies by foreign governments to their own farmers and breaking down and dissolving barriers to products of developing countries," Arroyo said in a statement.
Arroyo said some WTO member countries have used "quotas, health and sanitary regulations, technical obstacles, and other clever tricks" to restrict the entry of products from developing countries.
"We aim to fight for our farmers and fisherfolk to the best we can, working in concert with the rest of the developing world," Arroyo said.
The Philippines is a member of the Cairns Group of countries led by Australia, which have been pushing for rich nations to open up their farm sectors to developing countries and end subsidies which they claim distort trade.
"Globalization is inevitable and we support liberalized and free trade," Arroyo said.
|STOCK ALERT - Philippines' Meralco/First Hldgs/Benpres up on bargain-hunting|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Manila Electric Co, First Philippine Holdings and Benpres Holdings shares were higher late morning on bargain-hunting, dealers said.
They said the stocks are rebounding after declining recently and testing resistance levels, as investors focus on improving financial prospects for Lopez family-owned companies.
Meralco B, open to foreign investors, rose 1.25 pesos, or 6.10 pct, to 21. 75 on volume of 992,900 shares. Meralco A was up 0.50, or 3.85 pct, at 13.50 on 341,800 shares.
Meralco parent First Holdings was up 0.75, or 4.41 pct, at 17.75 on 437, 200 shares.
First Holdings parent, Benpres Holdings, was 0.03 pesos, or 5.36 pct, at 0.59 on 21.29 mln shares.
Meralco may seek approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission soon to implement a new tariff hike, which, if granted, will further improve its profitability, analysts said.
Benpres is seeking to restructure debts worth 552.00 mln usd, and company officials earlier said it is expected to complete negotiations with creditors before the year ends.
(1 usd = 55.05 pesos)
|WHO chief Lee warns of possible SARS recurrence|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Lee Jong-Wook warned that the SARS virus could return and called for strengthened surveillance to contain the global threat, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Will SARS come back or not? We have to prepare on the assumption that it will come back," Lee told the 54th session of the WHO regional committee for the Western Pacific.
"Our challenge now is to enhance surveillance networks that will detect and deal with SARS if it does return."
The first human cases of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus were detected in southern China in November before spreading to more than 30 countries, infecting some 8,000 people and claiming 916 lives as of last month.
Lee said SARS had "tested to the full" the Western Pacific, a region made up of 37 countries and territories where more than 90 percent of the SARS cases were reported earlier this year.
"This was the area hardest hit by the world's newest disease. We had to work to understand what was causing it," while at the same time waging a battle "to treat those most directly affected."
The WHO's Western-Pacific member governments have signalled that they want the UN body to allocate more funds to the region as it grapples with a possible resurgence of SARS and threats from other new infectious diseases.
A resolution calling for a revamp of the WHO's system of allocating funds to regions is expected to be adopted at the five-day meeting at the WHO regional headquarters here.
The Western Pacific region, for which 71 mln usd has been approved by WHO for the 2004/2005 period, accounts for only three to four percent of the agency's budget.
|Man resembling JI's al-Ghozi slain in Philippines clash|
COTABATO, Philippines (AFX-ASIA) - A man who bears a physical resemblance to fugitive Indonesian bomber Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi has been killed in a clash in the southern Philippines, Agence France-Presse reported.
Police have been asked to lift fingerprints and other identification marks on the corpse so they could be compared to those of al-Ghozi, said Major General Generoso Senga, commander of an infantry division.
"We are checking ang counter-checking the physical identification of this man. We are not claiming he is al-Ghozi but there are persistent reports that it could be him," Senga said.
Al-Ghozi, a key operative of the regional Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), escaped on July 14 from a military prison in Manila, where he had been serving a term after being convicted of illegally acquiring more than a ton of explosives.
The unidentified fatality was recovered after a clash between a group of 10 heavily armed men and a military patrol near the town of Sultan Kudarat on Mindanao island late Sunday, Senga told reporters. The body was taken to the 6th Infantry Division headquarters.
|Forex - Philippine peso steady in early trade in the absence of dollar demand|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso was steady in early trade as corporate demand for the US dollar eased substantially from last week, dealers said.
At 10.50 am, the peso averaged at 55.054 after trading within a tight range of 55.040-55.050 on volume of 34.50 mln usd so far. It closed at 55.020 last Friday.
"There has been no demand for the US unit perhaps because much of the requirements have been substantially complied with last week. Investors are also getting more used to the usual political bickering ahead of the elections," a dealer said.
Dealers added increased demand for the US unit last Friday was largely due to investor strategy of hedging ahead of a weekend given lingering fears of another plot to oust President Gloria Arroyo.
More than 300 soldiers took part in a failed military mutiny at the Makati financial district on the last weekend of July.
Dealers see the peso trading in a tight range of 54.950-55.100 on light volume today with the central bank likely to stay out of the market.
|STOCK ALERT - Philippines' PLDT extends rally on earnings prospects, ADR gain|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Long Distance Telephone was firmer in early trade on bullish earnings prospects and following another advance of its American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) in New York last Friday, dealers said.
They said the company's projected net profit of 9.00-10.00 bln pesos for this year, which appears to be on the conservative side, is sustaining buying interest in the country's largest telecom carrier.
At 10.04 am, PLDT was up 30.00 pesos, or 5.04 pct, at 625.00 on volume of 104,510 shares.
PLDT's ADRs gained 0.37 usd to 10.89 on Friday.
"Given its earnings prospects, PLDT's price may rise to 660 or even up to 740 pesos towards the end of the year, and that is likely to trigger buying in other stocks and sustain the market's upside," Regina Capital Development Corp analyst Gomer Tan said.
PLDT posted a full-year net profit of 3.10 bln pesos in 2002.
In the first half, the company's net profit reached 6.60 bln pesos before provisions, boosted by gains of its wireless business, and 1.80 bln after provisions.
(1 usd = 55.04 pesos)
|Philippines' Jan-July tourist arrivals 1.03 mln; down 10.20 pct yr-on-yr|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Tourists arrivals in the Philippines in the seven months to July fell 10.20 pct to 1.03 mln from 1.14 mln a year earlier, the Tourism department said.
In July alone, arrivals fell 2.80 pct year-on-year to 166,045 from 170, 831, marking the fifth straight month of decline.
The government has been releasing the data on a monthly basis since the outbreak of SARS in the region was first reported in the first quarter.
|Philippines' Metrobank plans to sell more idle assets - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co plans to unload more of its nonperforming assets after agreeing earlier to sell 16.30 bln pesos worth of such assets to an asset management company, BusinessWorld quoted bank chief finance officer Alfredo Javellana as saying.
"We are open to selling more. There are people who are interested in our selling more but nothing definite yet," he said.
Metrobank earlier agreed to sell some of its nonperforming loans to Asia Recovery Corp, an asset management company set up using investments made by Rabobank Nederland.
(1 usd = 55.02 pesos)
|Philippine central bank says to review external accounts target|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The central bank said it will review its external accounts target for 2003 after seeing weak exports growth in the first seven months of the year.
Merchandise exports in July declined 7.90 pct year-on-year to 2.97 bln usd. In the seven months to July, exports grew 0.50 pct to 20.04 bln usd from 19.93 bln in the year-earlier period.
The central bank is concerned that the weak exports performance would result in lower current-account surplus and bigger balance-of-payments deficit.
Its projections of a 2.35 bln usd current account surplus and 1.13 bln usd BOP deficit by the end of the year are based on exports growth of 5.00 pct this year.
"We will have to review the numbers, particularly the current account, in light of recent developments that saw a drop in exports," central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura said.
|Philippines' Belle to spend 450 mln pesos on Plantation Hills project -report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Belle Corp will spend 450 mln pesos to develop its flagship project, the 60-hectare farm lot subdivision Plantation Hills in Tagaytay City over the next two years, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, citing company vice chairman Willy Ocier.
The project will cover 750 square meters of farm lot units, with the first of its two- to three-phases completed by 2004, he was quoted as saying. It will be funded by internally-generated cash.
(1 usd = 55.02 pesos)
|Philippines' BIR exceeds Aug collection target - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has exceeded its 38.01 bln peso tax collection target for August by almost 500 mln, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, citing BIR commissioner Guillermo Parayno.
The BIR's higher-than-expected collections offset the 400 mln peso shortfall incurred by the Bureau of Customs last month, the report added.
BIR collections account for the bulk of the national government's total revenues.
The government has set an 8.10 bln peso budget deficit ceiling for August.
Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin earlier said the government had breached its expenditure program for the month.
The government's budget deficit for July stood at 15.80 bln pesos, below the 17.10 bln ceiling, marking the fourth straight month that the deficit was below the monthly target.
The government aims to keep its full-year budget deficit at 202.00 bln pesos.
(1 usd = 55.02 pesos)
|Philippine central bank to borrow 500 mln usd from 7 banks|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The central bank said it has signed a 500 mln usd loan deal with seven foreign banks to pay part of its maturing obligations next month and cover its funding requirements for 2004.
The banks, which will underwrite the three-year loan, are Citibank NA together with
The central bank said the loan is priced at a spread of 2.26 pct over the six-month Libor.
"We are very pleased with the pricing we got for a three-year bullet loan for 500 mln usd," central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura told reporters.
The borrowing is expected to boost the country's dollar reserves.
The central bank has 200 mln usd in loans maturing in October. It has refinanced a 500 mln usd loan that fell due in April this year.
|Philippines' Arroyo rejects US court injunction over Marcos wealth|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - President Gloria Arroyo denounced a US court order to stop the transfer of nearly 700 mln usd in Swiss bank funds formerly controlled by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to the Philippines government as an infringement of the country's sovereignty, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Foreign courts cannot overturn our own Supreme Court. It is important to stress this principle of sovereignty as the supreme welfare of our people is at stake in this issue," Arroyo said in a statement on the Hawaii district court injunction.
"To invoke a foreign court's decision to enforce Philippine policy or jurisdiction is absurd and a travesty of justice itself."
Press reports quoted a Sept 2 order by US District Judge Manuel Real barring the transfer of any assets of the Marcos estate worldwide without approval of the US court.
In reaction to the reports, the government's chief lawyer Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo said: "We are not an American colony."
Government officials earlier said next year's budget may factor in the anticipated additional funds from the Marcos Swiss deposits.
The Swiss government last month authorized the release to the Manila government of the Marcos Swiss bank funds, after the Philippine Supreme Court handed down a verdict in July awarding the funds to the Philippine government.
The funds, said to have been embezzled from state coffers during Marcos' 20-year rule, were frozen in 1986 following a popular revolt that ended his regime. Marcos died in exile in Honolulu in 1989.
The bank funds were later transferred to an escrow account in Manila to await a Philippine court ruling on their rightful ownership.
Arroyo last month pledged to use part of the Swiss bank funds to compensate the human rights victims.
She has urged Congress to pass amendments to a law that provided that all ill-gotten wealth recovered from the Marcos family and those of his cronies would be used to finance the implementation of the Philippines' 1987 agrarian reform law.
Arroyo has ordered that about 8.00 bln pesos of the Swiss money be placed in escrow so that it could eventually be used to compensate the human rights victims.