March 20, 2012 / 10:34 AM / 6 years ago

SE Asia Stocks-Mostly higher, Thailand fails again to hold 1,200

* Dividend yielding lifts Thai stocks
    * Indonesia eases on stricter central bank rule
    * Philippine hovers below all-time high

    By Viparat Jantraprap	
    BANGKOK, March 20 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock
markets rose on Tuesday as investors sought counters with
attractive dividend yields, but profit taking capped gains,
pulling Thailand's benchmark index back from the 1,200-point
level for a second day.	
    Thailand's benchmark SET index ended the day up 0.6
percent, while Singapore and Malaysia gained 0.4
percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.	
    Indonesia ended marginally lower, and the
Philippines fell 0.5 percent afer hitting an all-time
high last week. Vietnam stocks rose 0.5 percent.	
    The Thai market was buoyed by solid foreign inflows, but
like other Asian markets it succumbed to selling late in the day
as U.S. stock futures pointed to a weaker start on Wall
Street.	
    The Thai central bank is widely expected to leave interest
rates unchanged at 3.00 percent at a meeting on Wednesday,
prompting investors to look to higher dividend plays for better
returns.	
    "Thailand is actually holding up quite well ... But the
market here is a bit stretched, it's difficult to break the
1,200 level," said Andrew Yates, head of international equity
sales at broker Asia Plus Securities in Bangkok.	
    Among bright spots, Thailand's top telecoms firm Advanced
Info Service Pcl gained 2.3 percent. The stock is
yielding close to 5 percent, and the company has said it would
pay an interim dividend of 4.26 baht per share. 	
    Indonesian auto distributor PT Astra International Tbk
 fell 0.92 percent, adding to a combined 3.5 percent
loss over the past two sessions after Bank Indonesia announced
new credit curbs, including restrictions on auto loans. 	
    As global growth worries ease, some fund managers are
increasingly favouring North Asian markets over Southeast Asia
on expectations that companies which are more exposed to
international markets will outperform.  	
    Many Southeast Asian markets, viewed as being more defensive
against a global slowdown due to their domestic-oriented
economies, did better than the rest of Asia last year.  	
    "This year, it looks more of a North Asian story. If the
world looks a better place then all of a sudden the markets that
are open to the global growth environment become very
attractive," said Hong Kong-based Markus Rosgen, head of Asia
Pacific Equity Strategy at Citigroup.	
    Evaluations in some Southeast Asian markets are also looking
frothy. Philippine and Malaysian markets are trading at 19.8 and
17.1 times current price-to-earnings respectively, compared with
14.9 for China and 10.3 for Hong Kong. 	
(Additional reporting by Charmian Kok in SINGAPORE; Editing by
Kim Coghill)	
    	
    	
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SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS	
 Change on day
 Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
 Singapore          3002.73       2990.09       +0.42
 Kuala Lumpur       1577.62       1579.88       +0.26
 Bangkok            1196.60       1189.50       +0.60
 Jakarta            4022.16       4024.73       -0.06
 Manila             5102.24       5127.00       -0.48
 Ho Chi Minh         440.29        438.07       +0.51
 	
 Change on year
 Market             Current     End prev yr    Pct Move
 Singapore          3002.73       2646.35      +13.47
 Kuala Lumpur       1577.62       1530.73       +3.06
 Bangkok            1196.60       1025.32      +16.71
 Jakarta            4022.16       3821.99       +5.24
 Manila             5102.24       4371.96      +16.70
 Ho Chi Minh         440.29        351.55      +25.24

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