EMERGING MARKETS-Thai stocks plumb 6-month lows as anti-govt protests grow

Credit: REUTERS/EDGARD SU

Thai shares sank to a six-month low on Monday as escalating anti-government protests threatened to trigger an even deeper sell-off in equities and heaped further pressure on the region's worst performing stock market this year.

By Shashwat Awasthi

Oct 19 (Reuters) - Thai shares sank to a six-month low on Monday as escalating anti-government protests threatened to trigger an even deeper sell-off in equities and heaped further pressure on the region's worst performing stock market this year.

Protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and curbs on powers of the monarchy have compounded Thailand's woes in recent months after the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged its tourism-reliant economy.

Bangkok stocks .SETI, which have lost more than 23% so far this year, slid as much as 2.1% to their lowest since April 16 and endured their worst day since June.

"It's quite a surprise to me to see such heavy sell-off this morning," said Poon Panichpibool, a market strategist at Krung Thai Bank.

"In the short term, I think investors (local and foreign) will reduce their exposures to Thai equities, which could lead to deeper market correction," he said, warning of a deeper sell-off if investors began to expect a prolonged political turmoil.

Thailand has already suffered a record $8.8 billion in equity outflows over the first nine months of this year, exchange data shows.

Prakash Sakpal, senior Asia economist at Dutch bank ING, also highlighted risks to Thai assets from the uncertainty.

"History shows how ugly such political outbursts in Thailand could get... As such, I think risky Thai assets might be a no-go zone until the political dust clears," Sakpal said.

Philippine stocks .PSI soared more than 2% after the lower parliamentary house on Friday approved the 2021 budget, which the government hopes will underpin recovery from a pandemic-led downturn.

Timely passage of the budget had been threatened recently by a leadership row among Philippine lawmakers, and Jennifer Lomboy, a fixed income fund manager at First Metro Asset Management, said the approval lowered the probability of a re-enacted budget.

Most other emerging Asian stock markets rose as investors pinned their hopes on the prospect of a fresh U.S. fiscal stimulus deal and took comfort from data that showed China's economic recovery accelerated in the third quarter.

Stocks in Malaysia .KLSE, also dampened by political uncertainty in recent weeks, rose as much as 0.7% after three straight sessions of losses.

Currencies in the region largely traded in narrow ranges as investors awaited signs of progress on a U.S. stimulus deal before making firmer bets, though Taiwan's dollar TWD=TP continued to be an outlier and firmed 0.8%.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** Malaysia's 10-year benchmark yield up 8.70 basis points at 2.599%

** Top losers on Thailand's SETI include Samui Buri Property Fund SBPFu.BK, down 14.37%, Thai-German Products TGPRO.BK, down 14.29% and Apex Development APEX.BK, down 12.5%

** In the Philippines, top index gainers are GT Capital Holdings GTCAP.PS, up 5.58%, Jollibee Foods JFC.PS, up 5.17%, and JG Summit Holdings JGS.PS, up 4.69%

Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0656 GMT

COUNTRY

FX RIC

FX DAILY %

FX YTD %

INDEX

STOCKS DAILY %

STOCKS YTD %

Japan

JPY=

+0.02

+3.07

.N225

1.11

0.06

China

CNY=CFXS

-0.02

+3.92

.SSEC

-0.81

8.50

India

INR=IN

+0.04

-2.77

.NSEI

0.69

-2.67

Indonesia

IDR=

-0.20

-5.58

.JKSE

0.24

-18.79

Malaysia

MYR=

+0.02

-1.35

.KLSE

0.58

-4.80

Philippines

PHP=

-0.01

+4.08

.PSI

2.05

-22.98

S.Korea

KRW=KFTC

+0.47

+1.26

.KS11

0.22

6.78

Singapore

SGD=

+0.04

-0.95

.STI

0.42

-21.08

Taiwan

TWD=TP

+0.89

+4.81

.TWII

1.24

7.60

Thailand

THB=TH

-0.06

-4.17

.SETI

-1.84

-23.35

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

((Shashwat.Awasthi@thomsonreuters.com))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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