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DJ Thai Stocks Underperform Southeast Asia as Bangkok Protests Escalate
December 23, 2013

By Jake Maxwell Watts Thai stocks fell to their lowest level since early September following another weekend of mass protests on the streets of Bangkok, clocking up losses of nearly 9% since the unrest began in early November. The SET benchmark index was Asia's worst-performing by its last hour of trading, down 1.2%, with the baht falling to a fresh 3.5-year low against the U.S. dollar. Around 150,000 anti-government protesters gathered in Bangkok on Sunday, according to police, a day after the main opposition party said it would boycott snap elections called for Feb. 2. Among losers in Bangkok were financial services providers Kasikornbank PCL, which lost 3.4%, and Siam Commercial Bank PCL, down 1.5%. Telecoms provider Advanced Info Service, which was once affiliated with the family of beleaguered incumbent prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, lost 2.6%. Elsewhere in the region, Indonesia's JSX lost 0.4% and Malaysia's KLCI ended down 0.2%, rare losses for an otherwise upbeat day of trading across the wider continent, spurred on by Friday's gains on Wall Street and a 2014 economic growth upgrade to the International Monetary Fund's U.S. forecast. Singapore's FTSE Straits Times Index added 0.6% and the Philippines PSE Composite ended up 0.3% on its last day of trading before Christmas. In Manila, large-cap gainers included Bank of the Philippine Islands, which added 3.4%, and branded foods company Universal Robina Corp., up 3.1%. Power company Manila Electric Co. closed down 0.4% after the Philippine Supreme Court prevented the company from implementing the largest-ever increase in its electricity rates. The losses extend a 3.8% drop in the company's share price from Friday last week, sending it to the lowest for over a year. Currencies were mixed against the U.S. dollar. Singapore's dollar strengthened 0.1%, while Malaysia's ringgit lost 0.3%, extending its losses to the most since mid-September as investors leave emerging markets in favor of developed markets in Europe and the U.S. Thailand's baht lost 0.2%. Write to Jake Maxwell Watts at