Singapore shares flat; ThaiBev jumps to 8-month high
SINGAPORE, March 18 (Reuters) - Singapore shares barely budged on Tuesday as investors stayed off the stage, awaiting a key U.S. central bank meeting, while Thai Beverage shares hit an eight-month high and were headed for their biggest daily gain in two weeks.
The benchmark Straits Times Index was flat at 3,091.67 by 0458 GMT, while the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up half a percent.
ThaiBev, controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, led the index, rising nearly 5 percent to S$0.64, its highest since last July.
Analysts cite ThaiBev's strong fourth-quarter performance despite the tax hike on alcohol in Thailand introduced in September 2013. The share price has risen 12.5 percent so far this month while Singapore index has fallen 0.6 percent.
"We find ThaiBev a strong defensive in an uncertain Thai environment," said Credit Suisse analysts in a note, noting that spirits consumption is negatively correlated to GDP growth.
Credit Suisse maintained its "outperform" rating on the stock, and lifted the price target to S$0.68 from S$0.60, adding it expects earnings to grow 8-11 percent through 2016.
Property developer and hotelier OUE Limited, controlled by Indonesia's Riady family, said a consortium it belongs to has won a preliminary licence to build a casino complex in South Korea.
OUE shares rose as much as 7.7 percent to a three-month high of S$2.38, marking their strongest daily gain in 18 months.
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