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PSEi closes near record high after US corporate earnings data means BUSINESS

MANILA - Philippine share prices on Wednesday closed near record levels on strong earnings reports in the United States, extending the local market's winning streak to a fourth straight session.

At the Philippine Stock Exchange, the composite index went up 38.44 points or 0.71 percent to close at 5,438.38, just a few points below its record high of 5,443.74 set on October 4.

The financials, mining & oil and industrial sectors gained at least 1 percent to lead the market's rally.

Gainers beat losers, 89 to 66, while 53 issues were unchanged. A total of 7.99 billion stocks worth P7.32 billion changed hands.

Actively traded stocks were SM Investments, PLDT, Alliance Global, SM Prime and Bloomberry.

Jolliville, Metro Pacific Tollways and Abra Mining led the day's advancers, while Panasonic, PNOC-EC and Vivant were the day's biggest decliners.

"We've been getting some positive data from the US with strong corporate earnings and economic numbers. On our end, we are also anticipating good numbers from our own listed companies and we're seeing some positioning ahead of the start of our own earnings season," said Jose Vistan of AB Capital Securities Inc.

Overnight, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 127.55 points, or 0.95 percent, to 13,551.78 after bellwether firms Johnson & Johnson and United Health Group hiked their full-year profit projections, while Goldman Sachs raised its dividend.

Positive developments from Europe also provided an additional boost with talks of EU financial assistance for Spain and better-than-expected improvement in investor confidence in Germany. Moody's Investors Service also affirmed its investment grade sovereign rating on Spain, alleviating concerns about the nation's ability to manage its debt.

"We haven't really been getting bad news recently. The MILF peace pact signing adds more fuel to the economy and Mindanao should start contributing to the economy. Everything seems to be falling into its proper place with the economy geared for more growth in 2013," said Vistan.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front recently signed a peace agreement with the Aquino administration.