Wednesday, January 4, 2012

SE Asia Stocks-Most climb higher as foreign money returns

BANGKOK (Jan 4): Most Southeast Asian stock markets pushed higher on Wednesday as renewed appetite for risk and strength in oil prices attracted funds to commodities and energy shares.

Better-than-expected economic data from major countries including the United States and China helped the outlook for the global economy, luring short-term traders.

Leading gainers, the main Philippine stock index climbed 1.5 percent to five-month highs. But Manila, which has extended its trading hours to a close of 0730 GMT, saw its turnover fall to 0.3 times its 30-day average, in line with thin trade in the region as a whole.

Jakarta's Composite Index gained 1.3 percent to the highest in more than three months and Singapore's Straits Times Index edged up 0.8 percent, earlier hitting a three-week high.

Thailand's SET index ended up 1.1 percent, erasing some of its early gains in late selling. The market hit a one-week high in early trade, boosted by gains in energy shares.

"It's the first day back. There was a strong rally yesterday that we missed, so it's a little bit of a catch-up there. I think a lot still depends on external factors," said Andrew Yates, head of international equity sales at broker Asia Plus Securities in Bangkok.

The Thai market reopened on Wednesday after the New Year hoidays. Foreign investors bought shares worth 1.4 billion baht ($44.37 million), the bourse said.

Stocks in Malaysia ended down 0.6 percent after a rise of almost 1 percent at one stage.The Malaysian bourse said domestic institutions and retail investors sold a combined 129 million ringgit ($41 million), offsetting the buying of foreign investors.

Funds that sold up last year have taken a medium-term view that markets should be better this year, traders in the region said. Investors also selectively bought stocks that were expected to publish strong earnings.

Among gainers, Singapore's Keppel Corp Ltd, the world's largest rig builder, rose nearly 1 percent because of the positive outlook for global offshore and marine spending.

In the energy sector, Thai explorer PTT Exploration and Production Pcl surged 4.2 percent and Indonesian coal miner PT Bumi Resources Tbk climbed 2.2 percent.

Asian stocks in general rose on Wednesday, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan rising 1.4 percent at 1016 GMT.

Bucking the trend, Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange Index edged down 0.3 percent as investors cashed in gains in blue chips such as Vietcombank, which fell 2.4 percent. - Reuters

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