SE Asia Stocks-Bangkok, Jakarta lead regional gains
BANGKOK, March 13 (Reuters) - Thai stocks rose to their highest in over three months on Thursday amid heavy buying in dividend-yielding stocks after the central bank cut interest rates while Indonesian shares traded near 6-month highs ahead of Bank Indonesia's interest rate meeting. The Thai SET index was up 0.9 percent at 1,368.32, earlier touching 1,369.83, the highest since Dec. 11. Shares of energy explorer PTT Exploration and Production , state-run bank Krung Thai Bank and property developer AP Thailand were among the outperformers in the top 30 high dividend stocks. On Wednesday, the Bank of Thailand cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 2 percent, a level last seen in late 2010, to lift economic growth hurt by months of political unrest. The SET index could rise to 1,370, then 1,380 later in the day, brokers said. "The one-day repurchase rate cut to 2 percent will benefit the stock market in the short term ... more foreign capital will flow out of the bond market into the stock market after the MPC cut the rate," they wrote in a report. At midday, Indonesia's main index was up 0.7 percent at 4,719.15, the highest since Sept. 19, with consumer shares such as Unilever Indonesia among the gainers. Indonesia's central bank is expected to hold its benchmark reference rate unchanged at 7.5 percent at a policy meeting later on Thursday, as inflation has slowed and the rupiah has strengthened, a Reuters poll showed. Jakarta's Composite Index has risen 17.4 percent in dollar terms so far in 2014, among the outperformers in Asia, with analysts expecting a string of upgrades in corporate earnings forecasts providing further boosts. Most other Southeast Asian indexes were flat-to-weaker, awaiting Chinese data due out later in the day, including urban investment, industrial output and retail sales. Stocks in Singapore slipped 0.4 percent to their lowest in more than one week, while shares in the Philippines eased 0.7 percent to a one-week low. Malaysian stocks were up 0.08 percent, trimming some of their earlier gains, after data showed Malaysia's industrial production in January rose 3.7 percent from a year earlier, below expectations. Vietnam advanced 0.53 percent, led by food and energy stocks. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0536 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 403.28 401.02 +0.56 Singapore 3085.42 3097.43 -0.39 Kuala Lumpur 1820.10 1818.60 +0.08 Bangkok 1368.32 1356.42 +0.88 Jakarta 4719.15 4684.38 +0.74 Manila 6426.29 6462.47 -0.56 Ho Chi Minh 593.13 590.02 +0.53 * The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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