SET dips after touching 19-year high
Thai stocks hit a 19-year high before easing back on Friday as global factors, notably concern about the latest US budget impasse, outweighed local economic optimism.
- Published: 1/03/2013 at 04:58 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index reached 1549.5 points in the morning session, a level not seen since January 1994. It closed the day down 1.98 points at 1,539.60, almost unchanged from the previous Friday's close of 1,540.13. Turnover was 64.51 billion baht, with 13.29 billion shares traded.
The SET's all-time high of 1,789.16 was recorded on Jan 5, 1994 and the market declined steadily in the weeks immediately afterward.
The local market as of Friday was up 10.7% from the end of 2012, one of the best performances in the world.
Foreign investors were net buyers on Friday of 3.22 billion baht worth of Thai shares, returning to the net-buy column for the year to date at 872 million baht. Local institutions were net sellers of 951.6 million baht and brokers sold 172.6 million. Individual investors were net sellers of 2.1 billion baht.
Asia Plus Securities said the current high trading volume signalled a high possibility of continuing foreign net buying over the next few days. The index might test 1,600 or even 1,650 points, the brokerage said.
Teerada Charnyingyong, a strategist with Phillip Securities, said the market fell in the afternoon on a lack of factors supporting the positive sentiment, as investors were closely monitoring last-minute attempts by US lawmakers to avert yet another budget crisis on Friday night Thailand time.
She said that if automatic US spending cuts could be averted, it would support the Thai index to move up further. If the news from Washington is bad or inconclusive, the market will rely on listed companies' results for direction.
Friday was the first day of tougher rules intended to curb speculation, mainly by small retail investors. Shares placed on the SET's cash-balance list will now remain there for a minimum of six weeks, compared with three weeks previously. Investors wishing to buy shares on the list must pay cash upfront.
The cash-balance list includes shares with unusually high price/earnings ratios, or price movements and turnover that are not supported by real fundamentals.
Global stock markets swung between gains and losses as fresh data showed China's manufacturing weakening and investor concern rose about the US budget impasse and spending cuts.
China's manufacturing grew at its weakest rate in five months in February as demand faltered and factories shut down for the Lunar New Year holiday. Economic data from Japan showed a slight improvement in unemployment but a plunge in business investment and persisting deflation.
Trading was mixed in Europe with the FTSE off 0.1% in London early Friday, while Germany's DAX gained 0.3% and the CAC-40 in France was up 0.2%. In New York, Dow futures were up 0.1% at 14,048 and S&P 500 futures shed 0.1% to 1,512.40.
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock index gained 0.4% to 11,606.38 on expectations that the Bank of Japan will push ahead with more aggressive monetary easing if Haruhiko Kuroda is approved as the new governor.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.6% to 22,880.22. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.4% to 5,086.10. South Korean markets were closed for a public holiday. Mainland China's benchmark fell 0.3% to 2,359.51. Markets in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia were higher while shares in the Philippines and New Zealand lost ground.
In Bangkok, the SET50 index of blue chips ended at 1,013.15 points, down 0.99, with total trade value of 30.79 billion baht. The SETHD index of high-dividend shares fell 7.10 points to 1,290.23, with turnover of 11.63 billion baht. The Market for Alternative Investment gained 2.77 points to 472.02, with transaction value of 4.49 billion baht.
The five most active shares by value were Shin Corp (INTUCH), up 2.75 to 74 baht; the infrastructure and energy company MDX, down 2.30 to 20.20 baht; PTT, down 5 baht to 345; Advanced Info Service (AVANC), unchanged at 207; and Bangkok Bank (BBL), up 5 baht to 224 baht.
In the currency markets, the baht had a second weekly advance amid rising optimism about the local economy is improving, and as foreign funds increased holdings of Thai bonds.
International investors bought $2.7 billion more in sovereign notes than they sold in February, Thai Bond Market Association data show.
Economic growth will exceed 5% this year, Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said this week, adding to a 6.4% expansion in 2012.
"The central bank has quite a bullish growth outlook and that is positive for further fund inflows," said Tohru Nishihama, an economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo.
"A surge in imports (41% year-on-year in January) also shows domestic demand is strong, and that fits in with the growth story."
The baht was trading late Friday in Bangkok at 29.74 to the dollar, compared with 29.75/77 on Thursday and 29.85/86 a week earlier.
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- Writer: Online Reporters
- Position: Online Reporters