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Thai Stock Market May Extend Losses

Ahead of Friday's holiday for Chakri Day, the Thai stock market had closed lower in two straight sessions, falling almost 30 points or 2.5 percent in the process. The Stock Exchange of Thailand finished just above the 1,180-point plateau, and now analysts are forecasting further damage at the opening of trade on Monday.

The global forecast for the Asian markets is fairly light on leads, since the major European and U.S. markets were closed for Good Friday. However, analysts are looking for selling pressure on Monday after U.S. employment data failed to meet expectations.

The SET finished sharply lower on Thursday following heavy damage among the financial shares and energy producers.

For the day, the index plummeted 15.68 points or 1.31 percent to finish at 1,182.41 after trading between 1,177.83 and 1,197.04. Volume was 3.725 billion shares worth 29.665 billion baht. There were 416 decliners and 134 gainers, with 121 stocks finishing unchanged.

Among the decliners, energy giant PTT was down 1.41 percent, while PTT Global Chemicals shed 0.73 percent, coal miner Banpu lost 1.66 percent, Siam Concrete slid 1.14 percent, Kasikornbank plunged 2.55 percent, Siam Commercial Bank dropped 1.69 percent and Bangkok Bank fell 1.33 percent.

There is no lead from Wall Street or Europe, although the Asian markets are still looking at some negative momentum after the Labor Department reported on Friday that U.S. employment saw continued growth in March, although the pace of job growth came in well below estimates.

Non-farm payroll employment increased by 120,000 jobs in March following an upwardly revised increase of 240,000 jobs in February. Economists had expected the addition of about 201,000 jobs compared to the increase of 227,000 jobs that had been reported for the previous month.

The continued job growth was partly due to notable increases in employment in the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors, which added 39,000 jobs and 37,000 jobs, respectively.

Despite the weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate unexpectedly edged down to 8.2 percent in March from 8.3 percent in February. With the unexpected drop, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since coming in at 7.8 percent in January of 2009.

Also, the Bank of England kept the size of its bond purchases unchanged, as concerns about a technical recession ease and inflation remains sticky due to elevated oil prices. The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee decided to leave the quantitative easing unchanged at GBP 325 billion. Also, the committee retained the benchmark interest rate at its record low level of 0.50 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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