STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Thai index at 4-week lows, big caps lead

Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:48am EDT

Thai shares extended their retreat on Wednesday to the lowest level since March 13, dragged by heavyweight energy and telecommunications counters as brokers said investors cut positions in risk assets ahead of a long weekend.

The benchmark SET index was down 0.52 percent at 1,159.50 by 0741 GMT. Turnover was 33 percent of average full-day volume over the last 30 sessions in holiday-thinned demand.

Thai markets will be closed on April 13-16 for the Songkran holiday.

PTT Pcl, the largest index component by market capitalisation and the country's biggest energy company, led decliners with a 1.7 percent fall, while mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service Pcl dropped 2.1 percent.

Brokers expect weak market sentiment to continue as risk aversion clouds global stocks, and after a U.S. employment report came in much weaker than expected last Friday.

"Our sense is a further correction is possible due to weaker U.S. figures and resurfacing worries about the euro zone," said a KGI Securities broker.

1430 (0730 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; viparat.jantraprapaweth@thomsonreuters.com)

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12:49 STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Siam Cement around 11-week lows

Siam Cement Pcl fell 1.2 percent to 337 baht, the lowest since Jan. 27, on expectations the country's biggest industrial conglomerate would report weak profits for the first quarter due to lower petrochemical margins.

The spread between high density polyethylene (HDPE) and naphtha, seen as a key indicator in assessing the company's profitability, fell to $376 a tonne in the first quarter, said broker Asia Plus Securities.

The company's operating profit was expected to fall 39 percent to 5.59 billion baht ($180.56 million) in the quarter, the broker said.

Petrochemical demand for the quarter was hurt by a slowdown in global economy, the broker said. It still advised investors to buy the stock for long term investment, with target price of 425 baht.

"Despite the short term impact of weak first quarter earnings, we think it's still good for long term investment due to solid business strategy," the broker said.

Siam Cement shares had risen 8 percent this year, underperforming the broader market's .SETI gain of 12.6 percent.

1235 (0535 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; viparat.jantraprapaweth@thomsonreuters.com)

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11:18 STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Thai Airways up on lower oil prices

Shares in Thai Airways International Pcl gained 2.23 percent to 25.25 baht on lower fuel costs and expectations of strong earnings in the first quarter.

Broker Maybank Kim Eng Securities (Thailand) rated the stock speculative buy, with target price of 31.5 baht, a potential upside of 25 percent.

The airline was expected to report an operating profit of 3.0-3.5 billion baht ($96.90-$113.05 million) for the first quarter ended March due to fuel hedging and higher passenger numbers for the period, the broker said.

"Investors buy the airline's shares because of weaker crude and jet fuel prices which is very correlated to earnings performance," said an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng Securities.

The country's flag carrier reported a net loss of 5.39 billion baht, for the fourth quarter of 2011 because of severe floods that cut tourist numbers.

1100 (0400 GMT) (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in BANGKOK; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Chris Lewis)