SE Asia Stocks: Bangkok, KL up; Chinese policy concerns weigh

BANGKOK, March 15 – Thai stocks climbed to their highest in almost 16 years today, led by banking and telecoms shares, but shares in Indonesia and the Philippines fell amid renewed concerns about Chinese growth that gripped sentiment across Asia.

Thailand’s benchmark SET index finished up 0.6 per cent at 1,171.34, coming off an intraday peak of 1,174.42, the highest since 1996.

The resilience of domestic demand lured buyers of bank and telecoms shares, sending the biggest bank Bangkok Bank Pcl up 3.1 per cent and telecoms firm Advanced Info Service Pcl 2.7 per cent higher.

Malaysia’s main index also gained 0.23 per cent while the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange’s Vietnam Index rose 1.84 per cent, led by securities stocks on hopes for better-than-expected profits in the first quarter.

In a choppy and range-bound session elsewhere, Jakarta’s Composite Index ended down 0.35 per cent and the Philippine index was down 0.38 per cent after yesterday’s rise to an all-time high.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index inched down 0.02 per cent, failing to break above the year’s high after rising 1.2 per cent in the previous session.

Asian shares eased today, with the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index easing 0.17 per cent by 0944 GMT.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday the world’s second largest economy must embrace slower growth and bolder political reform to keep its economy from faltering.

He also dampened hopes for any near-term easing measures in the country’s property sector, sending Chinese shares lower.

Overall fund flows that have driven the emerging Southeast Asian stock markets remained good although funds appeared to be more selective and the focus was more on domestic-oriented shares, brokers in the region said.

“Investors are cautious again. I think we still can expect liquidity driven markets although further rally of share prices may happen slowly,” said Pichai Lertsupongkij, head of investment advisory services at broker Thanachart Securities in Bangkok.

Among actively traded, Malaysia’s financial firm CIMB Group Holdings Bhd was up 2.3 per cent and Manila-listed Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co gained 1.96 per cent. – Reuters


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