SE Asia Stocks - Mixed; small caps lift Thai index
BANGKOK, May 22 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets were mixed on Friday as selective buying in construction stocks brought the Thai index to a near four-week high while Malaysian benchmark hit a two-month low as palm plantation stocks fell in a reporting season. The Thai SET index was up 0.3 percent at 1,531.28, earlier hovering around the highest level since April 28. Mid-cap builders seen among potential bidders for government infrastructure projects outperformed such as Unique Engineering and Construction while large-cap construction shares, including Ch Karnchang gave up recent gains. The index is on track to rise for a second week, further recovering from a more than four-month closing low hit on May 12. The government's clear timeline on construction of key infrastructure projects helped improve market sentiment. "Further strength in the Thai baht and more clarity on infrastructure projects should lead to further foreign equity inflows," broker KGI Securities said in a report. Foreign investors turned net buyers of Thai shares over past two days, purchasing a combined 2.9 billion baht ($86.9 million), stock exchange data showed. The baht traded up 0.1 percent on Friday. Kuala Lumpur composite index edged down 0.30 percent, heading for a weekly loss of more than 1 percent. The index traded at 1,789.72, the lowest since March 18. Shares of palm plantation firms declined after weak quarterly results by palm planters, including Sime Darby , which fell 0.1 percent. Shares of Felda Global Ventures Holdings, which is due to release quarterly results later in the month, dropped 1.4 percent, the biggest percentage loser on the index. Singapore's index rose 0.4 percent, taking lead from gains in Asia and U.S. shares, a broker said. It is set to end the week down 0.3 percent. Vietnam is on course to end the week 4.3 percent higher, among the region's outperformers, with Indonesia heading for a weekly gain of 1.5 percent and the Philippines is set to fall about 1 percent on the week. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0656 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move Singapore 3452.14 3439.86 +0.36 Kuala Lumpur 1789.72 1795.04 -0.30 Bangkok 1531.28 1526.25 +0.33 Jakarta 5307.65 5313.21 -0.10 Manila 7796.05 7835.38 -0.50 Ho Chi Minh 558.85 552.56 +1.14 ($1 = 33.3700 baht) (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Additional reporting by Yantoultra Ngui in Kuala Lumpur; Jongwoo Cheon in Singapore; Editing by Anand Basu)
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