Thai construction shares fall; Indonesian banks lead declines

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BANGKOK (Sept 12): Thai shares retreated on Friday, heading for their first weekly loss in more than a month, as investors cashed in on recent gains in construction stocks, while in Indonesia the index edged higher amid caution over a likely end to fuel subsidy.

Data from the United States was also a key market focus, including the release of U.S. retail sales later on Friday and the Federal Reserve's statement next week, which could provide an indication to foreign fund flows to the region.

The Thai benchmark SET index fell 0.3 percent, dragged down by losses in construction-related shares such as cement firm Siam Cement Pcl and contractor Ch Karnchang Pcl.

The index is on track for a weekly loss of 0.6 percent after five straight weeks of gains.

Investors also took profits after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's policy speech to the parliament early on the day.

"Much of the expectations about the government's policy have been discounted into the market. It's positive for the domestic economy but investors also cut their risk positions due to external factors," said a strategist at Phillip Securities.

Jakarta's Composite Index traded up 0.4 percent, but was poised for a drop of more than 1 percent on the week.  Foreign-led selling hit banking shares, with Bank Rakyat Indonesia, Bank Mandiri and Bank Central Asia among the actively traded.

Indonesia needs to raise fuel prices before March and preferably by the end of 2014 to ease pressure on the current account and let the central bank focus on the weakening economy, a senior Bank Indonesia official said on Friday.

Others in Southeast Asia are set for a mixed performance on the week, with Singapore up 0.3 percent and Malaysia down 0.3 percent. The Philippines closed flat on Friday, ending the week almost 1 percent lower. Vietnam finished up 0.6 percent on the day and was down 1 percent on the week.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS
Change at 0822 GMT
Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
Singapore          3350.46       3347.28       +0.10
Kuala Lumpur       1863.40       1866.11       -0.15
Bangkok            1576.20       1580.87       -0.30
Jakarta            5153.55       5133.03       +0.40
Manila             7201.88       7202.06        0.00
Ho Chi Minh         632.50        628.99       +0.56