Malaysia up ahead of rate decision, PTT weighs on Thai shares

Southeast Asian stock markets rose today, with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia heading for a third straight day of gains amid easing tensions in Ukraine, while Thai shares trimmed most early rises as large cap PTT traded ex-dividend.

Asian shares pushed higher as diplomatic efforts moderated the crisis over Ukraine, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.7% by 0614 GMT (2.14pm MYT).

Singapore's key index was up 0.5%, hovering around its highest in 1-1/2 months. Indonesia rose 0.2% to a near six-month high. Shares of Singapore Telecommunications and Bank Rakyat Indonesia were among the actively traded on the indexes.

Malaysia edged up 0.2% amid buying in large caps such as Tenaga Nasional ahead of the central bank's interest rate meeting later in the day. Bank Negara is expected to keep its policy interest rate unchanged at 3%.

The Thai SET index was slightly higher at midday, helped by selective buying in banking stocks, while shares of top energy firm PTT dropped 2.3% as they traded ex-dividend.

Thai stocks had gained over the past five sessions, helped by short-covering and foreign-led buying.

Jitters over the political crisis remained, with the focus on judicial efforts to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, including a dereliction of duty charge brought against her by the National Anti-Corruption Commission over the rice pledging scheme.

Phillip Securities advised profit-taking around 1,360-1,370. The SET index was at 1,352.37 at midday.

"Foreign buying spree continued in Thai stocks, while intraday volatility escalated after several straight sessions of gains and in the absence of fresh catalysts, making the market highly susceptible to profit-taking," the broker said in a note.

Moody's Investors Service said that while it saw a negative impact on growth, at this point Thailand's sovereign credit profile was consistent with its Baa1 rating level and stable outlook.

In Manila, shares were up 0.9%, led by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co, which jumped almost 2% to its highest since January 23 amid positive market views on its 2013 earnings announcement. – Reuters, March 6, 2014.


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