STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-SET index near 18-1/2-year high after rate decision

Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:06am EST

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Thailand's main SET index rose as much as 1 percent to a near 18-1/2-year-high after the Thai central bank expectedly maintained its policy interest rate and said the economy could grow more than forecast this year.

The SET index was up 0.83 percent at 1544.72, climbing at one point to 1,547.09, the level last seen on Sept. 19, 1994. Investors who stayed on the sidelines before the rate decision resumed buying, analysts said.

"Market had been cautious of a possibility of rate cut which was a bit of a weak scenario for the market. So, what we see is the BoT's rate decision helped cheer up sentiment," said Kasem Prunratanamala, head of research of CIMB Securities (Thailand).

Banks, among the sectors likely to be hurt by a rate cut, rose 2 percent after the rate decision. Traders also bought consumer stocks with CP All Pcl, the most actively traded, climbing 4.6 percent to 51.75 baht.

For Thai central bank rate decision, click

1545 (0845 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

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12:41 STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Citi raises PTT price target; keeps 'buy'

Citi Research raised its price target for PTT Pcl PTT.BK, Thailand's biggest energy firm, to 403 baht from 393 baht, reflecting the higher value of its associates, that helped offset margin pressure for its core gas business.

PTT shares were down 0.28 percent at 357 baht at the midday break versus a 0.1 percent loss in the energy subindex .SETEN and a 0.5 percent gain in the broader SET index .SETI.

"Despite a lower value assigned to PTT's gas business, we assign more value to PTTEP PTTE.BK and PTTGC PTTGC.BK following our target price upgrades in Jan 2013," the broker said in a report dated Feb. 19.

The broker said it trimmed 2013-14 earnings forecasts by 4.4 percent and 5 percent, respectively. It kept the stock at 'buy', citing cheap valuations at a 9.1 times forward price-to-earnings multiple versus Asian and global peer averages of 11.1 times and 10.2 times.

1235 (0535 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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11:20 STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Banking shares rise ahead of rate review

The banking subindex .SETB rose 1.2 percent, outperforming a 0.5 percent gain in the broader stock market .SETI, amid selective buying in some interest rate sensitive stocks ahead of a central bank rate review due later in the day. (Full Story)

Among shares actively traded by turnover, Thanachart Capital Pcl TCAP.BK gained as much as 5.2 percent to a 16-year high of 45.5 baht and state-run Krung Thai Bank Pcl KTB.BK jumped 4 percent to 26 baht.

Thirteen out of 17 economists expected the monetary policy committee of the Bank of Thailand to leave the one-day repurchase rate THCBIR=ECI at 2.75 percent.

Any 25-basis-points rate cut would hurt the aggregate net interest margin (NIM) by 2.1 basis points and impact the bottomline by 1 percent and most banks would see a negative impact from a rate cut, Maybank Kim Eng Securities said in a report.

"On the other hand, if interest rates go on a downtrend for the long-term, this will be positive for valuation assessments for banking stocks," the broker said.

"Even though we remain positive on the growth outlook and maintain our overweight rating for banks, we prefer a selective buy strategy after the recent share price rally. TCAP is our top pick on the cheapest valuation with outstanding growth," it said.

1111 (0411 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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