BANGKOK, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Thai stocks eked out slim gains
on Wednesday amid institutional-led buying although worries
about political setbacks at home and weak November trade data
capped gains, while Vietnam retreated in a holiday-thinned
Thai key SET index rose 0.3 percent to 1,331.48 at
midday, with about 1.6 million shares changing hands, 29 percent
of a full-day average over past 30 sessions.
Coal miner Banpu and food exporter Thai Union
Frozen Products led gainers.
Broker Maybank Kim Eng Securities said a so-called "window
dressing" by local funds before the end of the year could limit
the SET downside, while KGI Securities advised investors to
stick with global commodity plays and exporters.
"It remains unclear if the February election can happen, as
the protesters still made clear they demand political reform
before the polls. We need to monitor if another round of rally
happens near the election date," broker KGI wrote in a report.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called an election
for Feb. 2, which the main opposition party says it will
boycott. Protesters seeking to topple her have vowed to fight
for an overhaul of the electoral system.
In a TV programme early on Wednesday, Yingluck proposed
setting up a political reform council to solve the conflicts.
The SET has dropped 4.3 percent so far this year, Southeast
Asia's worst performer. The market has recorded a combined $2.8
billion in net foreign selling since November to Tuesday, far
larger than outflows of many regional bourses.
Local analysts put the SET index 2014 target at 1,534,
helped by a global recovery while citing the political problems
as a risk, according to a survey by the Securities Analysts
Vietnam's benchmark index edged down 0.23 percent. It
rose earlier due to gains in some blue chips.
The index had risen 22 percent so far this year, Asia's
fourth best performer and outperforming all its Southeast Asian
peers, supported by a relatively strong economy.
Strategists at research house Jefferies expect the market to
outperform the region in 2014, they wrote in a report dated Dec.
"At a time when the fundamentals in Indonesia and Thailand
are deteriorating, Vietnam's are turning brighter ... Vietnam is
enjoying stable growth with lower inflation helped by an
increase in manufacturing contribution from foreign owned
firms," they said.
Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and
the Philippines are shut for Christmas.
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change at 0640 GMT
Market Current Prev Close Pct Move
TR SE Asia Index* 385.74 385.51 +0.06
Bangkok 1331.48 1327.13 +0.33
Ho Chi Minh 504.32 505.62 -0.26