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Online brokerage thinks now is the time to play stocks

Low interest rates, rosy earnings prospects, and increased online trading amid a robust economy are signals that the best time to invest in the Philippine Stock Exchange is at hand, online brokerage COL Financial said Tuesday. “The market has done very well in the past three years... Now is the time to invest... the country is entering  a golden period,” president and chief operating officer Conrado Bate told reporters in a briefing, saying, “The sentiment in business and government is at an all-time high.” COL Financial expects the bellwether PSE index to hit 7,400 this year, up from last year's 5,812.73 finish. The PSEi could reach the 10,000 mark within three years, it said. More investors online Bate's call came as the PSE released results of a poll of nine trading participants, which showed total online investor accounts grew by 48.3 percent to 78,216 in 2012 from 52,750 a year earlier. Retail investors remained the key market for online accounts as they accounted for 99.8 percent of total online accounts, the PSE said. “This goes to show that our market has become more open and aggressive to embrace technological advancements in terms of finding alternative ways of participating in the stock market,” PSE president and CEO Hans B. Sicat noted in an e-mailed statement. 'Financial wellness' Bate noted that Filipinos should “start to save and invest your money and that will lead to financial wellness.” Comparing the trend of rising investments in the local bourse to mobile phones, Bate noted, “Before, mobile phones wasn't a necessity, and now it is. Now, investing in stocks isn't but soon it will be, because of the need to fight off inflation.” “I'm not saying that you should put all your money into the stock market. But make sure you allocate a portion of it to maximize returns,” he added. In putting money into the stock exchange, Bate said "… look at sound companies like blue chip ones that can withstand an economic slowdown given their strong financials, noting this approach reflects “the right discipline” in investing. “There's no point trying to get... or hitting the jackpot in a hurry,”  he said. Bate prescribed to go for the long-haul as “short-term gains aren't really as robust as before... and be ready to put your money there for three to five years.” Bate added. — VS, GMA News