SE Asia Stocks-Indonesia touches 9-month high amid election optimism
BANGKOK, March 17 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stocks were range-bound on Monday, with Indonesia extending gains amid optimism around the presidential election, while Thai shares retreated after having risen last week on expectations of a possible lifting of the emergency. Indonesia's main share index rose 0.2 percent to 4,888.41, the highest since June 10. Shares related to the domestic economy such as Semen Indonesia and Astra International were actively bought. The index jumped 3.2 percent on Friday after main opposition PDI-P party named Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo as its presidential candidate, widely seen as a shoo-in to be next leader of the world's third-largest democracy. Investors were hopeful the election for parliament in April and the presidential vote in July would run smoothly, brokers said. "With the formal nomination of Jokowi as presidential candidate, we believe that market confidence will remain buoyant. This will encourage foreign inflows. This, in turn, would help lift the index higher," brokerage Danareksa said in a report. Its 2014 index target is 4,940. The Thai key SET index was down 0.2 percent, trimming some of last week's 1.3 percent gain. Selling hit recent gainers such as shares of airport operator Airports of Thailand and hotelier Minor International. The cabinet meeting on Tuesday was expected to end the imposition of emergency decree when it expires on March 22, which boosted tourism-related stocks last week. The market would also focus on the constitution court which will hear the February election case on March 19 and it is possible that the court will announce a ruling, brokers said. "We think if the constitutional court decides to annul the election, it could be a starting point for both sides to hold negotiations to end the crisis. This could be positive for the market as it should ease the key concern for investors," Maybank Kim Eng said in a report. In Manila, the main index eased 0.1 percent, led down by an almost 3 percent loss in shares of Manila Electric after it said net income for 2013 was almost flat. Manila Electric was last trading down 0.3 percent. Singapore shares snapped a three-day losing streak, buoyed by positive trade data, while the broader Asian market remained nervous over rising tensions in Ukraine. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0450 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 406.15 405.14 +0.25 Singapore 3079.84 3073.72 +0.20 Kuala Lumpur 1809.05 1805.12 +0.22 Bangkok 1369.94 1372.18 -0.16 Jakarta 4888.41 4878.64 +0.20 Manila 6382.90 6391.24 -0.13 Ho Chi Minh 600.39 596.83 +0.60 * 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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