SET flirts with 19-year trading high

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index yesterday surged to a 19-year high, propelled by risk taking following fresh assurances of easing monetary policy by the US Federal Reserve.

Eased concerns over China's potential tightening of the property market also lifted market sentiment.

The benchmark index hit an intraday high of 1,555.63 points _ a level unseen since September 1994 _ before retreating to close at 1,549.31, up by 0.56%, amid brisk trading volume of 59.2 billion baht.

Adisak Phupiphathirungul, a strategist at Thanachart Securities, said the index could drift higher towards 1,565, but profit-taking may intensify above that level.

Teerada Charnyingyong, a strategist at Phillip Securities, said the Chinese government still has not come up with measures to control the red-hot property sector.

"China's 7.5% GDP growth target is good enough to drive Asia's and the world economy even though the US and Europe remain in a slump. So investors have returned to stock markets," she said.

Poranee Thongyen, an executive vice-president of Asia Plus Securities, said a series of target-price upward revisions by several brokerage houses following upbeat 2012 earnings also gave a boost to the Thai stock market. Foreign capital continues to flow into Thailand albeit in a smaller amount than in January.

Asia Plus has revised the SET index target this month to 1,575 points from 1,550 with a support line at 1,470.

The broker expects the market's price-to-equity ratio will be 14.3 times this year, with earnings per share up by 22%.

Meanwhile, the Thailand Futures Exchange (TFEX) yesterday said it will add 20 new stock futures, bringing the total to 50, starting March 18.

TFEX managing director Kesara Manchusree said the increase is aimed at broadening investment alternatives for investors to manage their portfolios better.

The new underlying stocks are in the SET100 index, and each has at least 10 billion baht in market capitalisation.

They are Asia Aviation Plc (AAV), Amata Corporation Plc (AMATA), Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT), Bangchak Petroleum Plc (BCP), Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Plc (BGH), Bumrungrad Hospital Plc (BH), Berli Jucker Plc (BJC), Bangkok Land Plc (BLAND), Central Plaza Hotel Plc (CENTEL), Ch. Karnchang Plc (CK), Central Pattana Plc (CPN), Shin Corporation Plc (INTUCH), Jasmine International Plc (JAS), Kiatnakin Bank Plc (KK), PTT Global Chemical Plc (PTTGC), Robinson Department Store Plc (ROBINS), Sansiri Plc (SIRI), Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc (STEC), Thaicom Plc (THCOM) and TPI Polene Plc (TPIPL).

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Writer: Nuntawun Polkuamdee & Oranan Paweewun