Tisco recommends China, gold as SET outlook hazy

A Tisco unit recommends investment in China and gold this year while the Stock Exchange of Thailand's upside gains are limited following a bullish 2012.

Western economies have shown clear signs of recovery this year although funds continue to flow to the East over the past few weeks, according to Tisco Economic Strategy Unit.

Kampon Adirecksombat, senior economist of Tisco Bank's research unit, recommended China, the largest beneficiary of inflows to Asia, with a projected return of around 30%.

Gold should also be accumulated as a safe-haven asset in the near term.

He also said the Thai stock market's upside gains were quite limited at around 1,500 points, while the bond market still provided a low return.

Mr Kampon believes the Bank of Thailand will raise the policy interest rate by half a percentage point to 3.25% this year.

The Chinese economy was expected to expand by at least 8% this year on expectations the new leader Xi Jinping would introduce a huge stimulus package.

Apart from China, emerging markets in Asia are on the rising trend, albeit at lower rates than China's.

Uncertainties in the US and Europe will continue to weigh on markets over the next several quarters.

The US will consider expanding its debt ceiling in the second quarter, while Spain and Italy would have to repay massive debts in the second and third quarters.

He predicted the US and European Central Bank would continue to inject money into the system, the former to shore up the unemployment rate to 6.5% from 7.9% now and the latter to rescue Spain and Italy.

Under the circumstances, inflation will be a major threat. The US dollar will weaken until its interest rate begins to rise. As well, the euro will depreciate, affecting the baht.

Thailand's gross domestic product should reach 4.5% this year while earnings of listed companies are expected at around 15%. Inflation will be at 3.3% driven by rising food prices.

Vorasinee Sangvornvetphan, a wealth strategist at Tisco Wealth, said it was overweight in China, followed by Asia Pacific excluding Japan while avoiding bond markets on a chance of negative returns.

Ms Vorasinee said Thai share prices were relatively high at current levels and investors should wait for market corrections. She also recommended investing in inflation-beating gold in the wake of global uncertainties.

Tisco Wealth expects gold prices to reach $1,850 an ounce this year.

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Writer: Nuntawun Polkuamdee
Position: Business Reporter