SE Asia Stocks-Thai index falls to near 2-wk low; Indonesia set for strong 2014 gain
BANGKOK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Thailand's key stock index hit a near two-week low on Tuesday as energy shares were dragged lower by a drop in crude oil prices and small caps came under selling pressure amid caution over tightening trading regulations from Jan. 5. Other markets in Southeast Asia were little changed, with public holidays in the region keeping trading activities light. Thai SET index was down 0.3 percent at 1,494.14, trimming gains so far in the year to 15.1 percent, still among the region's outperformers. The benchmark earlier hit 1,486.30, the lowest since Dec. 17. Shares of PTT Exploration and Production traded more than 1 percent lower as Brent crude extended losses into a fourth session on Tuesday. Shares of Inter Far East Engineering plunged 6.2 percent and Pan Asia Footwear slipped 3.2 percent as investors cut holdings in small caps before the exchange's new measures kick in to curb excessive speculation in stock markets. The rule will be effective from Jan. 5. Broker KGI Securities expects the Thai market to move sideways on the final trading day of 2014, with a positive outlook for 2015. "Looking to 2015, we remain moderately positive to SET in the first quarter due mainly to our view that European QE will take place and drive a new round of EM inflows," it said in a report. Jakarta's composite index was 0.2 percent higher at 5,185.98, with shares of dividend yielding shares such as Telkomunikasi Indonesia among those actively traded. The index is heading for a 2014 gain of 21.4 percent and trailing the Philippine index's 22.8 percent gain. "It is slightly below our expectation of 5,300 on worse-than-expected IDR weakness which is negative for market growth outlook," said Harry Su, head of research of Bahana Securities. "On a more positive note, the Indonesian market would be well supported by lower oil prices, which should allow 2015 current account deficit to come down to 1.9 percent of GDP from 2014's level of 3.0 percent," he said. The rupiah has lost 2.4 percent against the dollar so far this year, partly due to weak economic data. The Thai stock market will be shut Dec. 31 through Jan. 2 for the New Year holidays and will reopen Jan. 5. Indonesia will be closed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, with trading resuming on Jan. 2 and the Philippines will remain closed through Jan. 2. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0528 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3365.37 3367.69 -0.07 Kuala Lumpur 1767.03 1768.41 -0.08 Bangkok 1494.14 1498.22 -0.27 Jakarta 5185.98 5178.37 +0.15 Ho Chi Minh 532.93 532.68 +0.05 (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Additional reporting by Wirat Buranakanokthanasan in BANGKOK and Jongwoo Cheon in SINGAPORE; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)
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