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SE Asia Stocks-Thai SET index up, but weak data caps gains; Vietnam retreats

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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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