Euro optimism lifts SET

Euro optimism lifts SET

Thai stocks rose sharply on Friday in line with the global trend as investors cheered a possible breakthrough in efforts to ease Europe's debt crisis.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index closed up 2.18 points from the day before at 1,246.10, a gain of 1.5% from the previous Friday's close of 1,227.48. Turnover was heavy at 34.65 billion baht with 8.76 billion shares traded.

World stock markets shot higher after the European Central Bank announced on Thursday a plan to buy government bonds with maturities of 1-3 years with "no limit".

European stocks were mostly higher in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 was marginally down at 5,774.73. But Germany's DAX gained 0.8% to 7,223.03 and France's CAC-40 added 1.3% to 3,554.49.

Wall Street appeared headed for yet more gains, a day after the Standard & Poor's 500 index soared to its highest level since January 2008, and the Dow hit its highest mark since December 2007.

The ECB programme -- its most ambitious yet in efforts to halt Europe's financial crisis -- is intended to keep the short-term borrowing rates of countries such as Italy and Spain at manageable levels, giving them time to enact debt reduction measures and economic reforms.

Asian markets posted strong gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 2.2% to close at 8,871.65. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 3.1% to 19,802.16 -- its biggest one-day percentage gain since Jan 17.

South Korea's Kospi rose 2.6% to 1,929.58. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 4,325.80. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, New Zealand and Thailand also rose.

Mainland Chinese shares soared. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 3.7% to 2,127.76 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index added 3.8% to 891.53.
Foreign investors were net buyers on Friday of 277.06 million baht worth of Thai shares, and institutions bought 1.35 billion. Local brokers were net sellers of 47.57 million baht and individual investors sold 1.58 billion baht.

In Bangkok on Friday, the SET50 index ended at 851.95 points, up 1.45 points or 0.17%, with a total trade value of 18.06 billion baht. The SETHD index went up 7.54 points or 0.68%, to 1,118.43 points, on turnover of 7.58 billion baht. The Market for Alternative Investment gained 0.15 points to close at 329.38, with a value of 873.74 million baht.

The five most active shares by value were Bangkok Land (BLAND), gaining 16.3% to 1.21 baht; CPF, up 1.25 baht or 3.9% to 33 baht; TRUE, unchanged at 5.50; Bangkok Bank (BBL) up 1.50 at 193.50, and PYY, up one baht at 33.

In the currency market, the baht had a weekly advance after the ECB announced its bond-buying plan, increasing demand for emerging-market assets.

The baht touched its strongest level since May as international investors bought $35 million more Thai equities than they sold this week through Thursday and pumped a net $646 million into government bonds, according to data from the SET and the Thai Bond Market Association.

"The ECB taking action leads to optimism about stability in the euro-area financial markets," said Kozo Hasegawa, a Bangkok-based currency trader at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. "That has improved risk sentiment and encouraged fund inflows to risker assets, supporting emerging currencies."

The baht was trading late Friday in Bangkok at 31.20/22 to the dollar, after briefly touching 31.15, compared with 31.22/24 on Thursday.

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