SET dips on global worries

Thai stocks slipped 0.3% yesterday in line with weakness in global markets, as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a G20 finance ministers' meeting this weekend.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index fell 5.22 points to close at 1,521.52, an increase of 1.6% from the previous Friday's close of 1,497.30. Turnover was 54.52 billion baht, with 13.17 billion shares traded.

Foreign investors were net sellers on Friday of 1.89 billion baht worth of Thai shares and local brokers sold 158.9 million. Local institutions were net buyers of 1.27 billion baht and individual investors were net buyers of 780.65 million. 

Foreigners have been net sellers in February of 13.07 billion baht in Thai shares, reducing their overall position for the year to date to 1.97 billion baht in net buying.

World markets were weak amid disappointing news about Germany's economy, as investors turned their attention to a major economic conference this weekend.
Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.2%, Germany's DAX was off 0.3% and France's CAC-40 shed 0.1% in early trade on Friday. Wall Street also appeared headed for a day of losses, with Dow Jones futures falling 0.2% to 13,926. S&P 500 futures lost 0.2% to 1,515.10.

Those drops came a day after Germany said its economy contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.6% in the last quarter of 2012 as the recession deepened across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro.

"A number of analysts have been making the case for quite some time now that the worst in Europe is probably behind us. However the steepness of the contractions ... appears to have given markets pause," said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

Finance ministers from 20 of the world's leading economies are meeting in Moscow this weekend to take up a host of issues, including concerns about a possible currency war.

Japan's new government has voiced a desire for a lower yen as a way to revive exports and its weak economy. But there are fears that more countries will seek to manipulate their currencies to gain trade advantages.

The slowdown in Europe was gloomy news for Asian countries, which depend on exports to the region to help drive their economies.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1.2% to close at 11,173.83. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1% to 23,444.56. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1% to 1,981.18. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.1% at 5,033.90.

Benchmarks in Singapore and New Zealand also fell. Markets in China and Taiwan were closed for Lunar New Year holidays.

In Bangkok, the SET50 index of blue chips ended at 1,006.06 points, down 6.37 points, with total trade value of 27.93 billion baht. The SETHD index of high-dividend shares fell 13.36 points to 1,294.59, with turnover of 11.4 billion baht. The Market for Alternative Investment shed 0.72 points to 451.03 points, with transaction value of 3.01 billion baht.

The five most active shares by value were the Skytrain operator BTS, down 10 satang at 8.05 baht; Bangkok Land (BLAND), up 9 satang at 2.08 baht; PTT, down 5 baht at 357; Thai Airways International (THAI), up 1.45 at 25.25 baht; and Jasmine International (JAS), down 15 satang at 5.85 baht.

In the currency markets, the baht had a second weekly decline amid concern that the Bank of Thailand will intervene to halt appreciation that may hurt exporters.

The baht has advanced by 2.5% against the US dollar this year, the best performance in Asia, as global funds have purchased some $5 billion more worth of sovereign bonds and stocks than they sold during the period.

The currency has started to stabilise after strengthening earlier in 2013, central bank governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said on Thursday.

"There's been some correction in the baht after quite a sharp rally this year, while there remains intervention concern," said Tsutomu Soma, manager of the investment trust and fixed-income business unit at Rakuten Securities in Tokyo.

"Funds will continue to flow into Asia where growth is solid. For bonds, it’s natural to think domestic investors are shifting funds to stocks that have really performed strongly."

The baht was trading late Friday in Bangkok at 29.85/87 to the dollar, compared with 29.83/85 on Thursday and 29.77/79 a week earlier.

The yield on the 3.625% government bond due in June 2023 rose 10 basis points this week to 3.64%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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