Business

SE Asia Stocks: Rebound, Thailand at fresh 16-year high

BANGKOK, March 8 – Southeast Asian stocks rose today with Singapore the strongest performer and Thailand hitting a fresh 16-year high as regional markets rebounded on upbeat US economic data and hopes that Greece would pull off a bond swap deal and avoid a default.

Financials were strong in Thailand, pushing Bangkok’s SET index 1.3 per cent to a 16-year high.

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.

“Foreign brokerages are quite positive on the Thai banking sector. That along with information and communication technology are the main drivers of this rally,” said Mayuree Chowvikran, head of Thailand research, at Maybank Kim Eng.

But Chowvikran warned that short-term trading was dominating at the moment suggesting that a pullback could be possible.

Thai Union Frozen, the world’s biggest canned tuna producer gained 3.5 per cent, recovering from a 5.8 per cent drop on Tuesday when it unexpectedly reported a rights issue.

“We believe TUF’s share price decline has largely factored in the rights issue, leaving upside catalysts as M&A deals are gradually announced. We are banking on management to execute value-enhancing M&A given its good track record,” CIMB Securities analyst Jakkapun Pornpunnarath said.

Singapore’s Straits Times index snapped a three-day losing streak and rose 1.8 per cent, its sharpest jump in nearly two months, led by index heavyweights DBS Group Holdings and property developer CapitaLand Ltd.

Indonesian stocks were up, but continued to lag Asian peers, rising 0.6 per cent after the country’s central bank paused today after a series of rate cuts. The bank hinted at a shift in its policy stance on expectations that inflation will accelerate above its target in coming months due to a planned increase in fuel prices.

Indonesia, the world’s best-performing emerging stock market over 2009-2011, has fallen out of favour this year as the case for piling more money into Southeast Asia’s biggest and fastest-growing economy has weakened.

Financials and consumption-related names, among the worst performers in Indonesia this year, staged a mild recovery today and provided the biggest boost to the benchmark.

Domestic consumption stocks Unilever Indonesia and Astra International rose 2.1 per cent and 1 per cent respectively. Bank Mandiri, down 3 per cent so far this year, was up 2.3 per cent.

Malaysia, considered the most defensive of Southeast Asian markets, rose just 0.2 per cent while last year’s top performer Philippines was up 0.7 per cent. – Reuters

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