Business

SE Asia Stocks: Mixed, Thailand hits 15-yr high

COLOMBO, April 18 – Thailand stocks gained today to a more than 15-year closing high on better quarterly earnings hopes, but other Southeast Asian markets closed mixed, squeezed by a rise in Chinese reserve requirements the previous day.

Volumes were thin as investors stayed on the sidelines amid growing concern over further monetary policy tightening to counter rising inflation after China yesterday raised banks’ required reserves for the fourth time this year.

Thailand , the region’s best performer this year with a 5.6 per cent gain, added 0.5 per cent to its highest close since September 1996, the Philippines gained 0.4 per cent to its highest in more-than five months, and Malaysia added 0.4 per cent.

Singapore lost 0.3 per cent, Indonesia closed 0.1 per cent weaker, and Vietnam shed 1.2 per cent to a more than six-week closing low.

Bangkok enjoyed net foreign inflows of US$85 million today, while Malaysia and Indonesia saw US$29.1 million and US$2.3 million of net foreign buying respectively.

Thailand saw volumes of 0.87 times its 30-day average, while traded volumes in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia were 0.84, 0.86, and 0.83 times their 30-day average.

Construction and property shares helped boost Bangkok, which resumed trading after three days of Songkran holidays.

Thailand’s biggest industrial conglomerate, Siam Cement , gained 3.4 per cent to a record high while developer SC Asset Corp added 7.8 per cent to a seven-year high, both on better earnings hopes.

The largest agri-business company, Charoen Pokphand Foods , closed 4.7 per cent firmer at a record high as rising global demand for food boded well for future earnings.

“Investors are quite optimistic about the first quarter results and the earnings outlooks of many sectors,” said Teerawut Kanniphakul, a senior analyst at Bangkok-based broker CIMB Securities.

“The Bank of Thailand is expected to raise its policy interest rate again at a meeting on Wednesday and banks will be the first sector to benefit,” Kanniphakul said.

Thailand’s second-largest lender, Krung Thai Bank , and the sixth-biggest, Bank of Ayodhya, gained more than 1.5 per cent.

In Singapore, despite a fall in the broader market, property developer Overseas Union Enterprise gained 2.2 per cent to a 10-week high after it said it was looking to launch an office REIT by 2013 when the upgrading of its properties is expected to be completed.

Singapore Airlines, the world’s second-most valuable carrier by market capitalisation, gained 0.4 per cent on better earning hopes after it said it had filled 67.3 per cent of the space available on its planes for passengers and cargo in March, up from February.

Singapore property developer City Developments gained 0.3 per cent as it secured a S$1.6 billion (RM3.03 billion) loan partly to finance the construction of South Beach, a commercial development in Singapore.

In Malaysia, the country’s third-largest lender Public Bank, which reported a 21 per cent rise in its first-quarter net profit, gained 0.2 per cent.

An election victory for Malaysia’s ruling coalition in Sarawak state boosted stocks related to the party, as investors bet on continuity in government policies in the near-term.

In Manila, Ayala Corp, the Philippines oldest conglomerate, gained 0.3 per cent as it said it will increase capital expenditure by more than 20 per cent to US$1.8 billion (RM5.44 billion) this year, and plans to expand into power generation and infrastructure. – Reuters

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