BANGKOK Feb 19 Thailand's benchmark stock index
hit an 18-year peak on Tuesday, outperforming most other
Southeast Asian bourses, as domestic institutions bought large
cap stocks, but volume was light as investors were cautious
ahead of a central bank rate review.
As of 0933 GMT, Bangkok's SET index was up 0.5
percent at 1,531.14, climbing one point to 1531.39, the highest
intraday level since November 1994.
Buying orders from so-called trigger funds lifted index
heavyweights such as PTT Pcl and Advanced Info Service
Pcl. Such fund buying would continue to support the
market in the near term, traders said.
Over the past three sessions, domestic institutions have
been net buyers of shares worth a combined $80.29 million,
countering net selling by foreign investors of $70.26 million
during the period, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The baht, pushed up by strong foreign inflows
earlier in the year, held in the range of 29.83 to 29.92 per
dollar on Tuesday versus an 18-month high of 29.60 on Feb. 4.
"Market activity was a bit weaker today. I think investors
want to wait for the interest rate decision tomorrow," said
senior strategist Teerada Charnyingyong at broker Phillip
About 10 million shares have changed hands so far in the
day, just under half the daily average in the past 30 sessions.
That compares with 2.8 times the average for Jakarta and
1.3 times for the Philippines.
Thai SET index has racked up a gain of 9.9 percent this
year, Asia's fourth-best performance, trailing Vietnam's
19.6 percent, the Philippines' 14 percent and Tokyo's
broad Topix index's 12.1 percent.
Thirteen out of 17 economists expected the monetary policy
committee of the Bank of Thailand to leave the one-day
repurchase rate at 2.75 percent on Feb. 20.
Thailand's better-than-expected fourth-quarter GDP growth
reported on Monday undermined the government's case for lower
interest rates. It wants a cut as a way of discouraging capital
inflows and taking upward pressure off the baht, which could
Broker Maybank Kim Eng Securities expects the market to be
supported in the short term by banking sector dividends and
buying from domestic trigger funds. The SET index could rise to
test the 1,535-1,540 level in coming months, it said.
(Editing by Alan Raybould and G.Ram Mohan)