May 30, 2014 / 6:46 AM / in 4 years

SE Asia Stocks - Thai stocks up; April economic data in focus

BANGKOK, May 30 (Reuters) - Thai stocks edged higher on
Friday, on track to extend gains for a fourth month, helped by
optimism around the military junta's economic policies and as
long-pledged rice payments to farmers helped revitalise domestic
    Others in Southeast Asia tracked broader Asian stocks lower,
with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
 edging down slightly.
    The Thai key SET index was up 0.7 percent at midday,
 notching up a 0.3 percent gain so far in May. Domestic
investors have pumped in a net 34 billion baht ($1.04 billion)
in May, while foreigners net sold the same amount.
    Retailers and leasing firms, such as Singer and
Group Lease, which tap into urban consumers, were among
this month's outperformers.
    "Investors should closely watch the economic numbers for
April. We expect the economy to much improve in June as many
farmers have already received their money for the rice crop,"
strategists at Maybank Kim Eng Securities wrote in a report.
    Data on Friday is expected to show stagnant consumption and
investment, more evidence of a stumbling economy that will lend
urgency to the military rulers' efforts to get the country
working again. 
    Profit-taking could keep market gains small as investors
weigh in possible violence, with conflict between different
political groups persisting since the military seized power in a
May 22 coup, brokers said.
    Shares of Thai Airways International jumped more
than 4 percent to their highest since March 18, as possible
changes of boardroom policies boosted hopes around earnings. The
airline posted a net loss in 2013 due to high operational costs.
    The National Anti-Corruption Commission has urged state
enterprises to seriously tackle graft, starting with a shakeup
of their boards, Bangkok Post newspaper reported on Wednesday.
    Elsewhere, Jakarta's Composite Index fell 1 percent
to its lowest level since May 22, with banks taking a beating
amid foreign-led selling.
    Bank Rakyat Indonesia dropped 1.9 percent, as
foreign investors sold a net 56 million rupiah ($4,800) in
shares, Thomson Reuters data showed.
    Market investors waited to see April trade data out on
Monday to gauge macroeconomic improvement, broker Mandiri
Sekuritas said in a report.
    Mandiri expected the April trade balance to show a deficit
of $400 million, versus a consensus of $170 million surplus,
partly due to higher imports ahead of the fasting season and
exports facing headwinds amid a correction in commodity prices,
it said.
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 Change at 0606 GMT
 Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
 TR SE Asia Index*   422.32        422.70       -0.09
 Singapore          3297.02       3300.71       -0.11
 Kuala Lumpur       1874.72       1876.62       -0.10
 Bangkok            1418.60       1408.51       +0.72
 Jakarta            4935.19       4985.58       -1.01
 Manila             6662.61       6676.67       -0.21
 Ho Chi Minh         561.64        558.45       +0.57
* The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a
highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.    
($1 = 11618.5000 Indonesian Rupiahs)
($1 = 32.7750 Thai Baht)

 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Prateek
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