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Rally May Stall For Thai Stock Market

The Thai stock market has finished higher now in back-to-back sessions, rising almost 10 points or 0.8 percent along the way. The Stock Exchange of Thailand finished just above the 1,145-point plateau, and now analysts are predicting a mild retreat at the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is mixed with a hint of downside as investors figure to remain cautious regarding lingering concerns over the debt situation in Europe, as well as geopolitical tensions concerning Syria and Iran. Steel and oil companies are expected to provide support, with gold and airlines called lower. The European and U.S. markets were mixed but little changed on Friday, and the Asian bourses are expected to follow suit.

The SET finished modestly higher on Friday following gains from the financial shares and the energy producers.

For the day, the index climbed 6.07 points or 0.53 percent to finish at 1,146.14 after trading between 1,141.72 and 1,147.37. Volume was 3.972 billion shares worth 32.134 billion baht. There were 238 gainers and 214 decliners, with 174 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the actives, energy giant PTT was up 0.84 percent, while PTT Exploration and Production jumped 2.49 percent, coal miner Banpu shed 1.23 percent, Siam Concrete shed 0.57 percent, Bangkok Bank added 0.84 percent and Kasikornbank collected 1.72 percent.

The lead from Wall Street remains ambiguous as stocks showed a lack of direction on Friday with traders reluctant to make any significant moves. The major averages lingered near the unchanged line for most of the session, eventually ending the day mixed pending questions about whether the global economic situation supports further upside for the markets.

Traders largely shrugged off a report from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan showing that the consumer sentiment index for February was upwardly revised to 75.3 from the mid-month reading of 72.5. Economists had expected the index to be upwardly revised to 73.0 after showing 75.0 in January. The index is now at its highest level since February of 2011.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that new home sales slipped 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 321,000 in January from the revised December rate of 324,000. Economists had expected new home sales to edge up to 315,000 from the 307,000 originally reported for the previous month.

Among individual stocks, Nordson (NDSN) and Salesforce.com (CRM) posted strong gains after reporting better than expected quarterly results. Meanwhile, J.C. Penney (JCP) ended the day modestly lower after the department store operator reported a fourth quarter loss compared to a year-ago profit. Excluding restructuring charges, however, the company reported a profit that exceeded analyst estimates.

After reaching a high above the key 13,000 level, the Dow gave back some ground, closing down 1.74 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 12,982.95. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ rose 6.77 points or 0.2 percent to 2,963.75 and the S&P 500 climbed 2.25 points or 0.2 percent to 1,365.74. Despite the mixed performance on the day, the major averages all posted modest gains for the week. The NASDAQ advanced by 0.4 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 both rose by 0.3 percent.

In economic news, Thailand will this week release January figures for imports, exports and trade balance. Imports are expected to rise 6.4 percent on year following the 19.1 percent surge in December. Exports are called flat after shedding 2.0 percent in the previous month. The trade balance is expected to show a deficit of $1.975 billion following the $2.130 billion shortfall a month earlier.

Also, Thailand's real economic output is expected to grow 5.5 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund mission led by Thomas Rumbaugh concluded in the economic review. As the global economy remains subdued, robust domestic demand will be necessary to sustain the recovery. Thailand's growth will pick up further to 7.5 percent in 2013. But the forecast is subject to downside risks, like possibility of strains in Europe undermining global growth and any renewed domestic uncertainty.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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