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SE Asia Stocks: Oil fuels fresh gains, Thailand flirts with 16-year high

BANGKOK, March 2 — Most Southeast Asian stock markets posted modest gains today as rising oil prices bolstered energy and resource-related shares, with foreign buying helping push Thai shares to the highest in almost 16 years.

Foreign inflows into the Thai market have gathered steam this year on hopes of a recovery in the flood-hit economy, and as improving US economic data boosts investors’ appetite for riskier assets.

“For Thailand, if you look at the long term chart it’s still below an all-time high while other markets have gone up,” said Andrew Yates, head of international equity sales at broker Asia Plus Securities in Bangkok.

“A large part of Thai economy is export related. So, if the US economy started to look better and maybe Europe started to resolve its problem then it helps look good for exports. Also, increasingly we got a strong domestic economy,” he said.

Thailand’s SET index rose as high as 1,173 at one point but ended the day nearly flat. Thailand logged US$1.7 billion (RM5.1 billion) in inflows this year to yesterday, Thomson Reuters data showed.

The market could see some consolidation in the short term but was expected to reach the 1,300-mark this year on the back of good corporate profits, Asia Plus’s Andrew said.

Elsewhere in the region, the Philippines benchmark index  climbed 1.6 per cent to record high, while Indonesia  rose 1.07 per cent.

Singapore was up 0.49 per cent and Malaysia gained 0.66 per cent, climbing at one point to the highest in more than seven months.

Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange index jumped 2.72 per cent. It posted a 3.8 per cent gain on the week, the best in the region, ahead of Indonesia’s 2.83 per cent, the second best.

Resource-related shares, including coal miners, were among the most actively traded shares, with Thai coal miner Banpu Pcl climbing 1.2 per cent and Indonesia’s PT Adaro Energy jumping 3.7 per cent.

Asian shares rose and the euro steadied today after a flood of cheap European Central Bank funds this week eased fears of a meltdown in the euro zone financial sector, overriding some weak data and concerns about surging oil prices.

The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan gained 0.41 per cent at 0957 GMT (1757 Malaysian time). — Reuters

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