The Thai stock market has finished lower now in four straight sessions, falling almost 20 points or 1.5 percent in that span. The Stock Exchange of Thailand finished just above the 1,220-point plateau, and now analysts are predicting a measure of traction at the opening of trade on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets continues to be a week-long holding pattern, waiting for hints of further stimulus from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed chief is scheduled to speak at the Kansas City Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole symposium on Friday, and many traders expect him to address the possibility of further quantitative easing. Upbeat economic data from the U.S. gives the markets a slight upside bias. The European markets were mixed and the U.S. bourses were slightly higher, and the Asian markets are expected to split the difference.
The SET finished sharply lower on Wednesday following losses from the financial shares and the energy producers.
For the day, the index plummeted 13.00 points or 1.05 percent to finish at the daily low of 1,220.16 after peaking at 1,237.82. Volume was 3.636 billion shares worth 33.046 billion baht. There were 368 decliners and 179 gainers, with 146 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the decliners, energy giant PTT was down 0.30 percent, while Bangkok Bank shed 2.06 percent and Kasikornbank plunged 3.18 percent.
The lead from Wall Street is cautiously optimistic as stocks showed a lack of direction on Wednesday, extending the lackluster performance seen in the two previous sessions. The choppy trading came despite the release of a batch of relatively upbeat economic data.
Traders largely shrugged off some upbeat U.S. economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing stronger than estimated U.S. economic growth in the second quarter. GDP increased 1.7 percent in the second quarter compared to the 1.5 percent growth previously reported - in line with estimates.
Also, the National Association of Realtors showed that pending home sales rose by more than expected in July, reaching their highest level in over two years. NAR said its pending home sales index rose by 2.4 percent to 101.7 in July after falling by 1.4 percent to 99.3 in June. Economists had been expecting the index to increase by about 1.0 percent.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book, indicating that U.S. economic activity continued to expand gradually in July and early August. The Fed's Beige Book is a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the twelve Fed districts. Six districts indicated that the local economy continued to expand at a modest pace, while another three cited moderate growth.
The major U.S. averages were slightly higher on Wednesday as the Dow inched up 4.49 points or less than a tenth of a percent to finish at 13,107.48, while the NASDAQ rose 4.05 points or 0.1 percent to end at 3,081.19 and the S&P 500 edged up 1.19 points or 0.1 percent to close at 1,410.49.
In economic news, Thailand's trade balance showed a deficit of $1.75 billion in July compared to $550 million shortfall in June, the Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday. Exports fell 4.46 percent year-on-year in July compared to forecast for a 3.75 percent decline. Imports, meanwhile, surged 13.73 percent from a year earlier.
by RTT Staff Writer
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