THE Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index plunged to a 52-week low Monday, March 9, as health authorities confirmed more new Covid-19 cases and Malacañang released Proclamation No. 922 declaring the country under a State of Public Health Emergency.
The PSE index (PSEi) closed at 6,312.61, down 457.77 points or 6.76 percent in one day.
It was the biggest single-day drop since October 27, 2008, when the index fell by 12.27 percent on reports that the Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial crisis.
Volume turnover was 1.15 billion shares valued at P6.3 billion.
Economist Jonathan Ravelas, in a Twitter post Monday, said the market entered bear market territory. A bear market is marked by stock prices falling by at least 20 percent.
The PSEi has lost 25 percent from a 52-week high of 8,419.59.
The market started feeling the jitters over Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly contagious novel coronavirus, when the index broke the 7,000 support level on February 26, 2020 and closed at 6,909.94, falling by 3.86 percent, the biggest one-day loss since 2016.
On Monday, the Philippines led the losses among Asian stock markets Monday, followed by Singapore, which also dropped by 6.03 percent; Mumbai Sensex, down by 5.17 percent; Japan's Nikkei 225, down 5.07 percent; Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, down 4.23 percent; and Shanghai, which fell by 3.01 percent.
Shares in the Middle East and Europe, as well as oil prices and U.S. futures were also down sharply, as reports on the health of the economies of Japan and China stirred more unease, and the downturn was being felt by people around the world.
In Saudi Arabia, falling oil prices led to steep drops on Riyadh’s stock exchange. The state oil giant Saudi Aramco led the losses, dropping by 10 percent and forcing a halt to Aramco's trading.
The country cut off air and sea travel to and from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Korea, Syria and the United Arab Emirates after earlier closing off its land borders.
All Saudi Arabian schools and universities were closing beginning Monday.
As the weakening economy was blamed at least in part on the virus that has infected more than 110,000 people, cases were reported in more than half the world’s countries and flash points were erupting around the globe.
In the United States, where more than 500 infections have been reported, eyes were fixed on cruise ships on opposite sides of the country that were kept at bay over fears of virus threats.
Passengers were disembarking the Regal Princess early Monday after it received clearance to dock in Florida. Tests of two crew members eyed as possible carriers of the virus came back negative.
The Grand Princess, meantime, was expected to dock in California with 21 people who tested positive for the coronavirus on board. Passengers were to be placed under quarantines.
In Italy, the government took a page from China’s playbook, issuing a quarantine order attempting to lock down 16 million people across a swath of the country’s north.
Italy’s financial hub of Milan and its popular tourist city of Venice were among the places under the order, and across the country, museums and archaeological sites were closed, weddings were canceled, and restaurants were told to keep patrons a meter (3.3 feet) apart. The country has counted 7,375 cases of Covid-19.
China reported 40 new cases of the virus Monday, its lowest number since January 20. More than three-quarters of the country’s surviving virus patients have been released, according to government figures.
South Korea reported 165 more cases Monday, bringing its total to 7,478.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health reported 10 new cases on Monday, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases to 20. (MVI/SunStar Philippines with AP)