SET index rises 5.94 points

Thai stocks rose 0.4% on Friday on momentum created by positive employment news in the United States and strong export numbers from China, analysts said.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index rose 5.94 points to close at 1,566.92, an increase of 1.8% from the previous Friday's close of 1,539.60. Turnover was 72.05 billion baht, with 15.86 billion shares traded.

For the year to date the local market was up 12.6% from the end of 2012.

Foreign investors were net buyers on Friday of 1.59 billion baht worth of Thai shares. Local institutions were net sellers of 564.6 million baht, brokers sold 188.9 million, and individual investors were net sellers of 837.2 million baht. 

For the year to date, foreign investors have bought 2.98 billion baht more in Thai shares than they have sold.

World and Asian markets gained in response to figures showing that China's exports expanded by 21.8% year-on-year to $139.4 billion in February, beating forecasts by a wide margin.

February had been expected to be weak because the Lunar New Year holiday fell during the month, leaving fewer work days.

European markets were also up in early trade on Friday, with Britain's FTSE gaining 0.6%, Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 each adding 0.8%.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.3% to 14,291. Sentiment on Wall Street was boosted on Thursday after the US Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week, dropping the four-week average to its lowest level in five years.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei posted its highest closing since September 2008, rising 2.6% to 12,283.62 as a weakening yen boosted export-linked shares.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.4% to 23,091.95. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 5,123.40. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines rose, while markets in China and Singapore fell.

In Bangkok, the SET50 index of blue chips ended at 1,025.72 points, up 3.08 points, with total trade value of 27.4 billion baht. The SETHD index of high-dividend shares rose 3.90 points to 1,290.32, with turnover of 10.42 billion baht. The Market for Alternative Investment gained 3.48 points to 476.36, with transaction value of 3.14 billion baht.

The five most active shares by value were the contractor Nawarat Patanakarn (NWR), rising 44 satang or 13.1% to 3.80 baht; Bangkok Land (BLAND), up 8 satang to 2.24 baht; TRUE, down 5 satang to 7.40 baht; PTT, down 4 baht to 335; and the developer Univentures (UV), up 80 satang to 17.50 baht.

In the bond market, 10-year Thai government bonds had a second weekly decline as an improving outlook for the economy spurred demand for riskier assets. The baht rose for a third straight week.

"Local optimism on potential growth in Thailand is making the outlook for stocks more bullish than bonds," said Wee-Khoon Chong, a rates strategist in Hong Kong at Societe Generale.

"The economy is growing and strong, and no prospect of monetary easing by the central bank is making bonds less attractive."

Bank of Thailand deputy governor Pongpen Ruengvirayudh said on Thursday that the central bank was likely to revise upward its 2013 economic growth forecast of 4.9%, and that the current benchmark interest rate of 2.75% was appropriate to support growth.

The yield on the 3.625% government bond due in June 2023 rose three basis points from a week earlier.

Global funds this week have been net sellers of $37 million worth of sovereign debt, official data show.

The baht was trading late Friday in Bangkok at 29.73/76 per dollar, compared with 29.73/74 on Thursday and 29.78.80 a week earlier.

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