SET index rises on rate cut prospects

SET index rises on rate cut prospects

Other SE Asia markets post slim gains

The SET index climps 0.9% to close at 1,390.82 points on Thursday. (Bangkok Post file photo)
The SET index climps 0.9% to close at 1,390.82 points on Thursday. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Stock Exchange of Thailand index closed at their highest level in a week on Thursday after lower-than-expected inflation lifted rate cut hopes, while other Southeast Asian markets eked out marginal gains as concerns over the impact of the coronavirus lingered.

The  SET index closed up 0.9% to 1,390.83 points in turnover of 66 billion baht, as the February inflation data came in ahead of the Bank of Thailand's policy meeting scheduled for later in the month.

Bangkok Commercial Asset Management Plc rose 2% to 25.50 baht, Airports of Thailand Plc gained 1.58% to 64.25 baht but Bangkok Bank Plc dropped 3.35% to 130 baht.

"The big picture is that the combination of weak price pressures, heightened growth risks, and rising pressure for a coordinated global response to the Covid-19 outbreak suggests a further rate cut by the Bank of Thailand now looks more likely than not", ANZ Research analysts wrote in a note.

Risk sentiment across Asian markets was boosted by US presidential candidate Joe Biden's success in the Democratic primaries and robust US services sector data for February. Gains were however capped as the global spread of the virus fuelled growth warnings.

The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday that the epidemic has crushed hopes for stronger growth this year. Adding to worries, a Reuters poll showed that China's exports and imports likely tumbled in the first two months of the year, as businesses and global supply chains were disrupted.

China is the region's biggest trading partner.

The Philippine benchmark ended 0.3% higher, after rising as much as 1% during the session, shrugging off data that showed annual inflation slowed for the first time in four months in February. Restaurant operator Jollibee Foods Corp rose over 5% and was the biggest percentage gainer on the index.

The Vietnamese index also strengthened, held firm by gains in energy stocks after oil prices rose ahead of an Opec meeting to discuss supply cuts.

Indonesian equities, which had gained over 5% over last two sessions, ended marginally lower on losses in financials. Bank Mega Tbk PT and Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero) Tbk PT shed over 4% and 2%, respectively.

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