SE Asia Stocks: Firmer; large caps lead Singapore to 2-year high

BANGKOK, Jan 24 – Southeast Asian stock markets gained today after a subdued session, with Singapore hitting a two-year high, led by large-caps such as Singapore Telecommunications Ltd and Thai stocks setting a new 17-1/2 year closing high.

Trading volumes in the region were relatively light, with volumes of Singapore at 0.8 times a monthly average. Investors were cautious as Asian shares retreated late in the session, with North Korea threatening a nuclear test.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose for a second day after encouraging manufacturing data from China. It ended up 0.53 per cent at 3,248.39, the highest close since Jan. 18, 2011.

Bangkok’s SET index also extended its gain for a second session, rising 0.7 per cent to 1,449.09, the highest close since July 14, 1995. PTT Global Chemical Pcl gained 1.3 per cent on hopes of quarterly results.

Foreign investors had bought Thai shares over the past eight sessions to yesterday worth a combined US$287 million, further strengthening the Thai baht this week which also boosted corporate demand for dollars.

“With the strengthening Thai baht, we are looking to buy dollars in a high volume which will be for our investments over five years,” PTT Exploration and Production Pcl’s CFO Penchan Charikasem told reporters.

Philippine Composite Index ended two sessions of falls to rise 0.4 per cent to 6,117.27, but still hovering below its Monday’s record finish of 6,171.70.

The Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange’s VN Index climbed 2.04 per cent to 452.40, adding today’s 0.12 per cent gain, in a technical recovery, driven mainly by blue chips. – Reuters


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