The Nation



Thai bourse ends volatile year 6% down from end-2012

The Stock Exchange of Thailand wound up a very turbulent year yesterday.

After hitting a 19-year high at 1,643.43 points on May 21 thanks to foreign-capital inflows, the SET Index ended the year 6 per cent lower than the end-2012 level.

The market suffered the most this month, buffeted by capital outflows and political turmoil at home.

The SET Index ended the year's final day of trading at 1,298.71, down 0.74 per cent or 9.75 points from 1,308.46 on Thursday. This was down by 108.74 points or 7.72 per cent from January 2, when the SET Index closed at 1,407.45, up 15.52 points from the end of the year 2012.

The index plunged as low as 1,275.76 points on August 28.

Yesterday, foreign investors remained net-sellers, with sales outpacing purchases by Bt716.25 million. This pushed the year-to-date net sales to Bt193.9 billion.

The market was supported mostly by local institutions and local individual investors who were net-buyers. Their net-sell positions this year reached Bt108.02 billion and Bt87.46 billion respectively.

Sukit Udomsirikul, Maybank Kim Eng Securities (Thailand)'s managing director and head of research, said investment in the SET would continue to face a hard period in the first half of 2014. It will face risks from both local political uncertainty and the US Federal Reserve's reduction of its quantitative-easing policy next month. The US move will have a direct impact on the global money market.

"We forecast the SET Index in 2014 moving between 1,218 and 1,749 for an average of 1,500 points," he said.

This estimate is based on an assumption of economic growth of 3-5 per cent, export growth between 5 and 8 per cent, and the political row ending in the first half of 2014, he added.

The Investment Analysts Association cut its 2014 SET Index target to 1,534 points amid concerns over local politics and an economic slowdown, as well as the Fed's stimulus roll-back, IAA director Poranee Thongyen said.

This downward revision indicates the local stock market's upside is limited, while the SET Index is heading for its first annualised loss since 2009. It is also based on expectations of the country's economy growing by 5 per cent in 2014, she said.

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