Thai index near 1,600; eyes on cbank for rate decision

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BANGKOK (Jan 27): Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose on Tuesday, with the benchmark Thai index rising to near the key 1,600 level after data showed better-than-expected exports in December and as investors looked forward to the central bank's interest rate review on Wednesday.

Major markets, led by Singapore, recovered from Monday's declines as Asian shares moved higher and the euro clung to rare gains, relieved that European markets had weathered Greece's election outcome without much disruption.
Bangkok's SET index was up 0.6 percent at 1,597.86 after volatile trading in the early hours, partly due to speculative trading in shares of the large cap Bank of Ayudhya (BAY).

Every baht of change in BAY shares would lead to a 0.7-0.8 point change in the SET index, strategists at broker Phillip Securities wrote in a report.

Export data will come under scrutiny while market focus will shift to the Bank of Thailand Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) meeting on Wednesday amid hopes of a rate cut, the broker said.

"However, we still believe the odds remain in favour of the MPC staying put on interest rates at tomorrow's policy meeting."

Sixteen of 20 economists in a Reuters poll predict the one-day repurchase rate will be left at 2.0 percent. The other four expect a 25 basis points cut, citing slow economic recovery and benign inflation.

Data showed Thailand's exports in December rose 1.9 percent from a year earlier, well above the 0.5 percent gain seen in a Reuters poll. For all of 2014, exports were 0.4 percent lower
than the previous year.

Bucking the trend, the Jakarta composite index edged down 0.1 percent. It dropped 1.2 percent on Monday as investors cashed in gains after the index rallied on Friday to a record
close of 5,323.89.

Bank stocks traded mixed in the financial reporting season, with shares of Bank Negara Indonesia up 1.2 percent and Bank Danamon Indonesia down 0.6 percent ahead of earnings releases expected this week, broker Trimegah Securities said.