SE Asia Stocks - Mixed; Thai shares near 15-month highs
BANGKOK, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The Thai benchmark index rose to a near 15-month high on Monday as investors built positions in shares with prospects of strong earnings amid hopes of political stability while shares of plantation firms underperformed in Southeast Asia. Thai military leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha was endorsed as prime minister by Thailand's king on Monday, paving the way for the formation of an interim government. The SET index edged up 0.4 percent to 1,563.03, the highest since June 3, 2013, adding on a combined 0.9 percent rise over the past four days. "Domestic political developments have progressed slowly but there are no positive surprises for the market. For the meantime, the markets focus will remain on the cabinet lineup," broker Phillip Securities said in a report. Shares of Airports of Thailand rose for a second day to a record high. Broker Kt Zmico Securities upgraded the airport operator's earnings estimates for fiscal year 2015 and 2016, citing the government's policy to boost tourism from China. "The Thai government's recent decision to waive visa fees for Chinese tourists for three months to November in order to boost the tourism industry is expected to be positive to AOT's passenger volume in fiscal year 2015," the broker said. Concerns about Indonesia's possible restriction of foreign ownership of plantations hit planters with landbanks in the Southeast Asian country, sending shares of Malaysia-listed IOI Corporation to their lowest since March 10. Shares of Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Kepong lost almost 3 percent and Singapore-listed Wilmar International fell to its lowest since May 9. "This attempt to cap foreign ownership will potentially dampen sentiment already hit by weak CPO prices," said a Daiwa Capital Markets report. In Singapore, banking shares such as DBS Group Holdings and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, led gainers amid optimism about a plan to allow Singapore banks to issue covered bonds (CBs). "In our view, CBs are a low-cost and stable funding alternative for Singapore banks, coming at a time of tightening local liquidity," broker Maybank Kim Eng said in a report. Stocks in Indonesia extended losses from Friday. Shares of auto firm Astra International slid as investors weighed in the risk of possible changes in the government's fuel subsidy policy. Vietnam's benchmark VN Index climbed 1.03 percent amid technical-led buying. The Philippine stock market is shut for a public holiday, and will reopen on Tuesday. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0531 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 445.23 445.92 -0.16 Singapore 3339.88 3325.50 +0.43 Kuala Lumpur 1860.74 1870.99 -0.55 Bangkok 1563.03 1556.97 +0.39 Jakarta 5182.13 5198.89 -0.32 Ho Chi Minh 626.53 620.14 +1.03 * The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Additional reporting by Fransiska Nangoy in JAKARTA Editing by Sunil Nair)
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