ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
ASEAN EQUITY PREVIEW
Sixteen Asia-Pacific countries are set to start talks next month on a free trade zone that would cover over half the world’s population, according to a document obtained by AFP on Tuesday.
The start of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are planned despite deep rifts among potential members, including China, Japan and Southeast Asian nations, over rival territorial claims.
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who will meet in Brunei on Wednesday and Thursday, are expected to focus on kick-starting the talks after launching the process last year at a regional summit in Phnom Penh.
The leaders will note that “the negotiations will commence in May” in the Brunei capital of Bandar Seri Begawan, according to a draft of the chairman’s end-of-meeting statement obtained by AFP.
“We looked forward to the broadening and deepening of existing (free trade agreements) and envisioned the RCEP to be a platform for future trade and investment integration in Asia and the rest of the world,” the draft stated, which is prepared by senior officials and could be changed.
RCEP covers ASEAN’s 10 member countries—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam— as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
It aims to tie together ASEAN’s bilateral free trade agreements with each trading partner, but excludes the United States which is leading talks for a rival trade pact called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP currently involves 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
“The RCEP provides an important platform for building trade liberalization within the Asia-Pacific, which is the world’s fastest growing region,”, Rajiv Biswas, chief regional economist at IHS Global Insight, told AFP.
“The initiative is very important as it includes the three major drivers of emerging markets growth—China, India and ASEAN.”
Potential members have said previously they are keen to make progress towards an RCEP, despite being engaged in diplomatic rows over various rival territorial claims in the region.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia have competing claims to parts of the South China Sea, and tensions have escalated in recent years amid complaints of increased Chinese aggression.
Meanwhile, China and Japan are locked in an even more tense dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
In another territorial row, relations between Tokyo and Seoul have been strained by a dispute over a Seoul-controlled chain of islets in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
The Stock Exchange of Thailand main index went down 9.75 points, or 0.63%, to close at 1,549.35 points at the end of trading session this afternoon. The trade value was 53.68 billion baht, with 9.96 billion shares traded.
The SET50 index ended at 1,021.18 points, down 6.74 points, or 0.66%, with a total trade value of 27.89 billion baht.
The SET100 index fell 16.18 points, or 0.70%, to stand at 2,286.09 points, with a total turnover of 36.28 billion baht.
The SETHD index went down 10.38 points, or 0.84%, to stand at 1,223.59 points, with total trade value of 9.29 billion baht.
The MAI index dropped 3.50 points, or 0.71%, to close at 486.78 points, with total transaction value of 2.03 billion baht.
Top five most active values were as follows;
KTB stood at 24.20 baht, down 1.30 baht (5.10%)
JAS stood at 7.85 baht, unchanged
SCB stood at 184.50 baht, up 1.00 baht (0.54%)
CPF stood at 28.50 baht, down 1.50 baht (5.00%)
BBL (XD) stood at 224.00 baht, down 3.00 baht (1.32%)
Thailand's richest tycoon on Tuesday launched a $6.6 billion takeover bid for Thai discount retailer Siam Makro as rapid economic growth drives a boom in the kingdom's retail sector.
The agreed bid is the latest mega-deal involving billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, whose sprawling empire includes a string of convenience stores operated under the 7-Eleven brand.
Dhanin's CP All said in a statement that it had agreed to buy a 64.35 percent stake in Siam Makro from SHV of the Netherlands for 787.00 baht ($27.3) per share, and would launch a tender offer for the remainder.
It comes months after Dhanin's umbrella group Charoen Pokphand — which began as an agribusiness conglomerate — sealed a deal to buy a $9.4 billion stake in Chinese insurance giant Ping An from HSBC.
In March, Forbes estimated that Dhanin and his family were worth $14.3 billion, making him the richest person in Thailand.
Founded in 1988, Siam Makro operates dozens of cash and carry stores across Thailand selling food and consumer products to wholesalers, retailers and other customers.
Dhanin's group was once its top shareholder but sold out after the financial crisis that rocked Asia in 1997.
Thai firms are on an acquisition drive, with another billionaire, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, acquiring Singapore conglomerate Fraser & Neave earlier this year.
Thailand's economy is enjoying rapid economic growth, which hit a record high of 18.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, recovering from the impact of the kingdom's worst floods in decades.
HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers' index for China came out at 50.5 for April, compared with March's final reading of 51.6. A score above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity.
Singapore's blue-chip Straits Times Index (STI) lost 24.57 points to end at 3,284.35. In the broader market, losers outnumbered gainers 284 to 136.
Volume was 1.80 billion shares valued at S$1.34 billion.
Shares with China exposure were generally lower, with China shopping mall operator CapitaMalls Asia dropping 1.8% to S$1.945, while Global Logistic Properties fell 3.3% to S$2.68.
Tiger Airways tacked on 4.6% to S$0.685 after getting the Australian competition regulator's go-ahead to sell 60% of Tiger Australia to Virgin Australia.
A joint venture between casino operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd and Philippine conglomerate Alliance Global Group Inc hired five banks for an up to $500 million initial public offering in Manila, IFR reported on Tuesday, citing sources with direct knowledge of the deal.
Travellers International Hotel Group, as the Genting and Alliance venture is called, plans to go public early in the third quarter, added IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.
Alliance said on Tuesday in a securities filing that Travellers International is exploring different ways to finance its projects, including debt and equity, without disclosing details of its plans.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, CIMB, Maybank, Religare Capital Markets and UBS were hired to handle the offering.
Philippine Stock Exchange index gave up 138.12 points or 1.94 percent to close at 6,982.36. This was after rallying on Monday by 2.35 percent to an all-time high of 7,120.48.
Across the region, stock markets were also mostly weaker as investors were unnerved by indications of weak China factory output in April.
At the local market, all counters slumped on Tuesday led by holding firms (-3.22 percent). Value turnover amounted to P11.82 billion. There were 103 decliners that outnumbered 75 advancers while 33 stocks were unchanged.
“The over-valuation of Philippine stocks is attracting more and more sellers who believe that current price-to-earnings ratios of index stocks are not sustainable. Expect sellers to gravitate to—or switch to—non-index stocks, which will likewise benefit from a growing economy and falling interest rates,” said Eduardo Banaag Jr., first vice president and equity fund manager of Philam Life.
Shanghai tumbled 2.57 percent, or 57.63 points, to 2,184.54 and Hong Kong was down 1.08 percent, or 237.76 points, at 21,806.61.
Tokyo closed 0.29 percent lower, giving up 38.72 points to 13,529.65 and Seoul fell 0.40 percent, or 7.68 points, to 1,918.63.
However, Sydney rose 1 percent, or 49.6 points, to 5,016.2.
– Singapore fell 0.74 percent, or 24.57 points, to close at 3,284.35.
DBS Bank shed 0.90 percent to Sg$15.51 and oil rig maker Keppel Corp. dropped 0.18 percent to Sg$11.30.
– Taipei dropped 0.35 percent, or 27.61 points, to 7,942.77.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. slipped 2.30 percent to Tw$106.0 while Hon Hai Precision was 0.91 percent lower at Tw$76.2.
– Manila slid 1.94 percent, or 138.12 points, to 6,982.36.
Alliance Global retreated 4.62 percent to 24.80 pesos, while BDO Unibank slipped 0.54 percent to 92.15 pesos and SM Prime Holdings dropped 4.50 percent to 19.10 pesos.
– Wellington added 0.73 percent, or 32.84 points, to 4,516.50.
Telecom rose 3.11 percent to NZ$2.65 and Fletcher Building put on 2.36 percent to close at NZ$8.66.
– Bangkok lost 0.63 percent, or 9.75 points, to 1,549.35.
Bangchak Petroleum fell 4.26 percent to 33.75 baht, but Big C Supercenter jumped 7.41 percent to 232 baht.
– Kuala Lumpur fell 0.37 percent, or 6.29 points, to 1,700.39.
Hong Leong Financial Group dropped 2.0 percent to 15.00 ringgit while Kuala Lumpur Kepong shed 1.6 percent to 21.30 ringgit. PPB Group added 0.2 percent to finish at 12.62 ringgit.
– Jakarta eased 0.43 percent, or 21.59 points, to 4,975.33.
Lender Bank Negara Indonesia fell 0.93 percent to 5,300 rupiah, while food manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur rose 2.04 percent to 7,500 rupiah.
– Mumbai ended flat, adding 9.53 points at 19,179.36 points.
Private carrier Jet Airways rose 4.43 percent to 573.85 rupees while energy giant Reliance Industries gained 1.74 percent to 803.5 rupees
Shayne Heffernan Ph.D.
Economist/Hedge Fund Manager
Live Trading News
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