* Almost daily anti-government protests seen as a big drag
* Worries about economy remains plus delays in stimulus measures
* Foreign investor sentiment falls to ‘very bearish zone’
* Policy interest rate seen steady at record low 0.5%
BANGKOK, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Investor confidence in Thailand’s stock market over the next three months hit a five-month low, slipping into bearish territory, dented by mounting anti-government protests, a capital market association said on Monday.
Rising political turbulence is adding to pressure on a government already struggling to revive an economy expected to shrink by a record amount this year as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged tourism and consumption.
The Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations said its August survey showed the investor confidence index (ICI) fell by 21% to 67.52 from the previous month.
“The domestic political situation was the biggest drag on the Thai stock market,” the federation’s chairman, Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, told a briefing.
Foreign investor confidence “alarmingly dropped into the very bearish zone”, he said. “Politics have made the stock market underperform others for two months, even as we have well managed COVID-19”.
A big protest is planned on Sept. 19. Demonstrators have called for the removal of the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a new constitution and reforms of the monarchy.
The Thai stock index has fallen by 19% so far this year, with foreign investors dumping 261 billion baht ($8.34 billion) of shares - already close to a record 287 billion baht sold in 2018.
Investors remained concerned about the economy plus delays in economic measures to ease the virus impact, Paiboon said, adding the government urgently needed to find a new finance minister to rush to implement measures.
Banking executive Predee Daochai resigned on Sept. 1 after a few weeks in office as the government rolls out billions of dollars of stimulus packages.
A separate survey by the Thai Bond Market Association showed the central bank may hold its benchmark rate at a record low of 0.50% at its next meeting on Sept. 23, after cutting it three times this year, said senior vice president Ariya Tiranaprakij. ($1 = 31.3000 baht) (Reporting by Satawasin Staporncharnchai and Orathai Sriring Editing by Ed Davies)
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