Sun Life investment unit keeps bullish outlook for PH economy in 2024

Better and brighter days are ahead for the Philippine economy and financial markets this 2024. This is the forecast of Sun Life Investment Management and Trust Corporation (SLIMTC), the investment arm of giant insurer Sun Life Philippines.  

In his debut presenting the annual market outlook, newly appointed SLIMTC Chief Investment Officer Ritchie Teo primarily cited the declining inflation (which he said has already peaked), leading to the return to normal levels of prices post-pandemic.  

In January 2024, the country’s inflation dropped to 2.8% (the slowest since 2.3% inflation rate in October 2020), according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. That aligns with the government’s target of 2% to 4% this year. Teo expects this to trigger the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to cut interest rates by the later part of the second quarter, which could possibly contribute to positive cash flows.  

During a recent media conference hosted by SLIMTC, Teo forecast the national consumer price index (CPI) to average at 3.8% this year. Meanwhile, Teo also shared their gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast at 6% for the year. He attributed this to potentially higher consumption and private investments.  

“However, a couple of risks may arise, such as a severe El Nino, which can affect commodity prices and delay the execution of infrastructure projects,” he explained.  

On the other hand, SLIMTC expects the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) to hit 7,200 by end of year, about 4.3% increase from the current index level. However, he warned that the stock market needs to keep above 6,700 to sustain its momentum. Earnings per share (EPS), an indicator of how much a listed company makes for every share, is likely to grow 8.4% on average, driven by banks, property, and consumer discretionary players in the market. 

Teo added that it helps that global investors are presently more optimistic as well for 2024 compared to previous years. “Policy easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve should support both bonds and equities,” he said.  

Given these developments, Teo recommends considering investing in the local equities markets for institutional and retail clients who continue to remain in the money market. 

***** 

Ritchie Ryan Teo, CFA joined Sun Life in November 2014 and was appointed as SLIMTC Chief Investment Officer in 2023. The Ateneo de Manila University alumnus (he completed Management Engineering degree) was also the Deputy CIO when SLIMTC launched in 2021.