ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand Leads ASEAN Higher
News of strong China export growth last month pushed its key stock index up 2.8 percent on Wednesday and broader Asian shares gained, with MSCI’s index for Asian markets, excluding Japan, up 0.17 percent at 1009 GMT.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. recovery, while being sustained by private demand, isn’t as strong as he prefers and faces risks from Europe’s debt crisis that may require further Fed action.
U.S. growth is “not as fast as we would like,” Bernanke told the House Budget Committee in testimony today just hours before the Fed’s regional business survey said the economy expanded in all 12 Federal Reserve districts for the first time in more than two years, with a “modest” pace in many regions.
Bernanke gave no indication he’ll soon back off from the central bank’s pledge to keep interest rates at a record low for an “extended period,” given high unemployment and low inflation. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News this month pushed back their forecast of higher rates to 2011 from late 2010, based on the median estimates.
Asean markets improved yesterday Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, attracted more foreign buying, while gains on the Thai market were mainly pushed by domestic buyers.
Thailand was the cheapest in Southeast Asia, trading at a 12-month forward price to earnings of 10.3 times, below Indonesia’s 13.3, the highest in the region.A false perception of political risk has kept foreign investors away from the Thai market.
Foreign investors reversed direction and bought Thai shares worth a net $2.3 million on the day, after selling $49 million in the past two sessions.
Gains in Bangkok on Wednesday included Krung Thai Bank KTB.BK, the second-largest lender, which was up 5 percent after a rating upgrade by Moody’s Investors Service. PTT (PTT.BK) rose 0.8 percent after the top energy firm said a consolidation of its downstream business, eagerly awaited by the stock market, would probably be completed in the first quarter of 2011 rather than the fourth quarter of this year.
In Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia (AIRA) jumped 4.7 percent after a newspaper reported its long-haul budget carrier, AirAsia X, planned to launch an initial public offering in the second half of 2011 to tap public funds for growth.
In Singapore, big caps pulled the market lower. Top lender DBS Group Holdings (DBSM.SI) and the biggest developer CapitaLand (CATL.SI) both fell 0.6 percent.
Losses in Manila included Philippine Long Distance Telephone (TEL.PS), its largest listed firm, and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI.PS), the third biggest bank, both falling more than 1 percent.
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