ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand SET hit a fresh 22-month high as strong economic data for February pointed to sustainable growth that have discounted the so-called political tensions. Thailand has attracted $1.6 billion in foreign buying in the past five weeks.
Thai annual inflation was a little lower than expected in March at 3.4 percent while core inflation remained below the central bank’s target range, suggesting interest rates would remain on hold on April 21 at a record low. Thai equities are up 9.3 percent this year, Asia’s fifth-strongest stock market. Shayne Heffernan of Ebeling Heffernan has put an early 2011 target of 1000 on the SET.
Energy and bank shares led gainers. Energy firm PTT rose 3.4 percent, PTT Exploration and Production surged 4.3 percent and Kasikornbank closed up 2.6 percent. Cement shares surged after strong sales in February, Siam Cement SCC.BK, jumping 4.3 percent, Siam City Cement SCCC.BK climbing 1.3 percent and TPI Polene TPIP.BK gaining 2.3 percent.
Indonesia stocks approached a record high on Thursday after inflation data stoked expectations the central bank will keep its interest rate at a record-low next week.
The rise in Indonesia’s stock index does not mean its stocks were overvalued. It still has ample opportunity to grow, strong domestic demand and commodity prices across the resource-rich Indonesian.
The rally in Jakarta pushed its gains for the year to 11.5 percent, Asia’s best performer. Investors snapped up stocks seen as beneficiaries of domestic growth, pushing Astra International (ASII) 6.2 percent higher and Bank Rakyat (BBRI) up 5.5 percent. Both stocks hit record highs.
PT Adaro Energy, Indonesia’s largest coal producer by market value, said on March 31 net income surged almost fivefold last year to 4.37 trillion rupiah on output gains and higher fuel prices. The shares climbed for a fifth day, advancing 2 percent to 2,000 rupiah.
Indonesia’s debt rating may reach investment grade by 2012 as the country’s economic and political conditions improve, Standard Chartered Plc said in a recent report.
The Indonesian rupiah has risen 3.6 percent this year, the second-best-performing currency in Asia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A strong rupiah and low inflation have helped the central bank keep its key interest rate at a record low of 6.5 percent to support Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
The nation’s consumer price index rose 3.43 percent in March from a year earlier, the central statistics agency said in Jakarta today. That compares with the 3.7 percent median estimate of 22 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The inflation rate was 3.81 percent in February, a report showed last month.
Indonesia’s central bank, which will meet on April 6 to review its policy, has kept borrowing costs unchanged since cutting them to a record low in August to help the economy avoid a recession. It has refrained from following Malaysia, India and Australia in raising interest rates this year even as inflation returns to the region amid a global recovery.
The central bank on March 8 raised its economic growth forecast to 5.6 percent from 5.2 percent, citing rising consumer spending. Indonesia’s domestic car sales in February jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, Astra International said on March 19. Shares of Astra, which posted a record 2009 profit, have risen 28 percent this year.
Singapore shares closed 0.8 per cent higher on Monday helped by firmer Asian markets and positive US stock futures.
The Straits Times Index (STI) gained 22.86 points to 2,929.14.
Volume was light at 1.35 billion shares valued at S$1.16 billion, suggesting the local bourse may have trouble making new highs in the near-term.
Gainers outpaced losers 319 to 154.
Rig builders led the market higher, supported by investors seeking out companies with a strong record of cash generation.
Sembcorp Marine jumped 4.2 per cent to S$4.25, its parent company Sembcorp was up 3.3 per cent at S$4.13 and Keppel Corp advanced 1.8 per cent to S$9.31.
Palm oil stock Golden Agri-Resources rose 0.9 per cent to S$0.55, extending Friday’s rebound after falling to a three-week low on customer unease over the company’s Indonesian unit’s plantation practices.
Noble Group lost 0.9 per cent to S$3.15 after RBS cut its trade recommendation to “hold” from “buy” and its target price to S$3.84 from S$3.94.
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