SE Asia Stocks-Firmer on easing EM concerns, return of foreign funds

Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:49am EST

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Feb 17 (Reuters) - All Southeast Asian stocks rose on
Monday, helped by hopes of a return of foreign funds into
emerging markets amid easing concerns and as gains in local
currencies made the region's risky assets attractive for
offshore investors. 
    Jakarta's Composite Index was 0.8 percent firmer,
trading at its highest intraday level since Oct. 31. Banking
shares led the gains with the Indonesian rupiah 
also up against the dollar.
    "The market continued its gain today due to recent improving
macro trends, a strong rupiah and continued foreign inflows,"
said John Teja, director of Jakarta-based broker Ciptadana
Securities.
    The rupiah rose more than 1 percent on Monday to hit a
three-month high as currency traders said custodian banks bought
the currency to snap up the country's bonds, after Indonesia's
current account deficit, which has worried currency markets,
narrowed in the fourth quarter to its smallest in 1-1/2 years.
    A recent set of positive economic data, including a trade
account surplus in December and better-than-expected fourth
quarter economic growth have lifted market sentiment, taking the
year-to-date gain in Indonesian shares to around 6.3 percent,
among Asia's outperformers.  
    Singapore shares were up 0.8 percent, trading near
a three-week high, led by banks after positive earnings from
United Overseas Bank Ltd lifted its shares to their
highest in two-and-a-half weeks on Monday.
    Despite political concerns, the Thai SET index rose
0.8 percent by midday to 1322.66, its highest level in more than
one-and-half months, led by a 4 percent gain in Airports of
Thailand Pcl.
    "The key concern is the domestic political problem. Overall,
the SET index could hold well in the region of 1,300 due to its
relatively low valuation to the region," said Kasem
Prunratanamala, head of research at CIMB Securities (Thailand).
    "Easing political tensions could be an upside risk for the
market, going forward." 
    Thailand's economic growth slowed significantly in the final
quarter of 2013, data showed on Monday, and the state planning
agency cut its forecast for this year because of the political
unrest that could prevent the formation of a fully functioning
government for months. 
    Bangkok saw net foreign inflows of $5.21 million on
Thursday, the first time after 14 straight sessions of outflows
which reached $890.75 million. The Thai market was closed on
Friday for a public holiday.
    Teerada Charnyingyong, a strategist at Phillip Securities,
said most foreign investors are still cautious on short-term
trading.
    The Philippines main index was up 1 percent at a
three-week high. Malaysian shares rose 0.6 percent to a
near one-month high, while Vietnam was just a shade
lower. 
    
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
 Change at 0602 GMT
 Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
 TR SE Asia Index*   394.15        389.89       +1.09
 Singapore          3063.48       3038.71       +0.82
 Kuala Lumpur       1829.37       1819.37       +0.55
 Bangkok            1322.66       1311.87       +0.82   
 Jakarta            4542.10       4508.04       +0.76
 Manila             6172.64       6113.66       +0.96
 Ho Chi Minh         570.33        572.22       -0.33
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