SE Asia Stocks-Most retreat; Thai shares extend losses
BANGKOK, March 25 (Reuters) - Thai stocks fell to their lowest level in more than two weeks on Tuesday as rising political uncertainty weighed on the outlook for the domestic economy and corporate earnings, while other Southeast Asian markets retreated amid global weaknesses. The Thai SET index was down 0.3 percent at 1,346.59, falling at one point to 1,341.60, its lowest since March 10. It had fallen about 2 percent over the past five sessions from a more than three-month high hit on March 17. Losers included hotelier Central Plaza Hotel amid concerns about the impact of political uncertainty on hotel occupancy rates, traders said. Tourism shares, like carrier Thai Airways International, also came under selling pressure. "Overall, the market is losing its strong momentum shown in recent weeks and we believe more clarity on local politics is needed for another round of strength," strategists at broker KGI Securities wrote in their daily strategy report. Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand resumed street protests on Monday after lying low for weeks, piling pressure on increasingly beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is expected to face impeachment within days. Stocks in Singapore edged down 0.3 percent, reversing from Monday's 1.3 percent rise. Investors sold recent gainers, sending United Overseas Bank Ltd off a one-month high hit in the previous session. The Philippines lost about 1 percent after snapping three sessions of losses on Monday, Malaysia was a tad lower after climbing to a more than two-week high in the previous session, and Indonesia eased after gaining on Monday amid foreign investors-led buyers. Vietnam pared early losses and was up 0.3 percent, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.1 percent. Asian shares were in a defensive mode after Wall Street fell overnight and U.S. short-term bond yields rose to six-month highs, though still-vague hopes of a new stimulus plan in China could improve investor sentiment. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change at 0504 GMT Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 400.55 401.62 -0.27 Singapore 3105.19 3111.83 -0.21 Kuala Lumpur 1830.18 1833.85 -0.20 Bangkok 1346.59 1349.90 -0.25 Jakarta 4700.41 4720.42 -0.42 Manila 6334.40 6400.67 -1.04 Ho Chi Minh 609.14 607.55 +0.26 * 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; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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