BANGKOK, July 5 -- Investors want the incoming government to stick to its investment plans for infrastructure mega-projects and release budget plans for them as soon as possible, said the head of private banking at Kasikornbank (KBank).
The government’s planned infrastructure projects will draw in further foreign investment into the country, which is seen as an attractive and low-risk investment market, Siriporn Suwannagarn, managing director and financial advisory head of Kasikornbank's Private Banking Group, said at a press conference on Friday. Foreign and domestic investors would like plans for the next government budget to be released as soon as possible, she said. This way, investors will be able to adjust their investment strategies to optimise returns on sectors that will benefit from new government policies.
"For instance, if the government announces its plans to roll out more Pracharat policies directed to the grassroots economy, then the agricultural sector will stand to benefit. On the other hand, if the government increases its focus on the Eastern Economic Corridor, then there may be further investment opportunities in the manufacturing sector," she said.
Growing foreign investment flows into the country along with a strong current account surplus have strengthened the baht in recent months, creating a key opportunity for Thais to invest abroad. However, Siriporn cautioned investors on the high level of stock market volatility around the world as the global economy has entered a late-growth cycle. "Global markets have been overreacting to the 'good' financial news as the US Federal Reserve has signalled lower interest rates and the US and China agreed to resume trade talks at the G20 meeting," she said.
The Thai stock market has been part of this trend. The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) Index at the end of June showed an increase of 6.8 per cent over the previous month, marking it as the best performer in Asia. It is up 10.6 per cent from the end of 2018 to 1,730.34 points. The average daily trading value on the SET and the Market for Alternative Investment (mai) in June was Bt60.53 billion (US$1.95 billion), up 3.1 per cent from the preceding month. However, the US policy rate has not been lowered yet and the US tariffs on Chinese goods have not been reduced, Siriporn said. If these factors worsen, investors should readjust their portfolios and invest less in equities, focusing more on assets such as gold and bonds, she said.
Author: Pete McGee
TOKYO, May 21 -- Tokyo stocks closed lower Tuesday after the market inherited a weak lead from Wall Street overnight, with rekindled concerns about the outlook for the global economy leading to a circumspect market mood.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 29.28 points, or 0.14 percent, from Monday to close the day at 21,272.45. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, dropped 4.62 points, or 0.30 percent, to finish at 1,550.30. The market mood was negative from the get-go local brokers said, after inheriting a negative tone from Wall Street overnight as U.S. technology issues slid. Stocks continued to trade in negative territory, market strategists here said, as investor sentiment continued to be dented by concerns over the future course of the global economy, compounded more recently by the United States inflaming global trade issues. Buying gathered pace in the afternoon, however, as stocks here got a boost from a rise in Shanghai shares, but electronic makers and cyclical issues declining saw buying short lived, investment analysts said.
Cyclical issues including Screen Holdings closed in negative territory, with the semiconductor and electronics maker dropping 4.0 percent, while Murata Manufacturing lost 1.5 percent. Kyocera, meanwhile, closed the day 0.7 percent lower. By the close of play, marine transportation, mining, and electric appliance-oriented issues comprised those that declined the most, and issues that fell outpaced those that rose by 1,320 to 743 on the First Section, while 78 ended the day unchanged. On the main section on Tuesday, 1,254.55 million shares changed hands, rising from Monday's volume of 1,178.24 million shares. The turnover on the second trading day of the week came to 2,331.3 billion yen (21.16 billion U.S. dollars).
HONG KONG, April 19 -- The global 5G race has set off a powerful rally in Chinese telecom stocks. And what we’re seeing now may just be the beginning of exceptional opportunities for savvy investors, analysts and traders say.
As countries around the world race towards a 5G future of driverless cars and wired homes, Chinese telecommunications equipment makers and suppliers are scrambling to make their mark. Chinese network operators are set to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on buying new 5G base stations over the next few years to build the next generation of telecom networks. This means massive orders for main equipment vendors to build them, with the top players – privately held Huawei Technologies and Hong Kong-listed ZTE – set to snap up the bulk of them. The money will then trickle down to their suppliers of an array of telecom components. The prospect drove a jaw-dropping 75 per cent surge in a gauge compiled by Wind of 76 China-listed, 5G-related stocks over the past six months. That dwarfs the 22 per cent rise in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index over the same period.
One leading stock is Shenzhen-listed Wuhan Fingu Electronic Technology, which has soared 408 per cent since it said it was providing customers – its biggest client is the telecom giant Huawei – radio frequency devices to conduct 5G field trials in October. Its rival Suzhou Chunxing Precision also has jumped by 194 per cent since October after making a similar announcement. The market fervour in 5G has even led to mysterious surges in completely unrelated stocks. Shanghai-listed Eastern Communications skyrocketed 800 per cent from October to March, forcing it to make several warnings to say it was not involved in any 5G business. Traders labelled it a yaogu – “monster stock” – meaning that the surge was entirely a result of speculative capital and deviated from the fundamentals. But the real deals have plenty more room to climb, many investors and analysts say, with the market still not yet grasping what a massive growth driver 5G is to the telecom sector.
SHANGHAI, April 15 -- Racked by scandal, high-profile collapses and high-profile company exits, the world’s largest peer-to-peer lending market could soon face a second reckoning, as Beijing prepares to adopt stricter licensing requirements.
China’s peer-to-peer (P2P) industry, much like payday lenders in the United States, has provided a valuable lifeline for some of the country’s most vulnerable consumers and small businesses that have had trouble accessing the traditional banking system, although it only accounts for a small portion of total borrowing in the country. The internet-based lending platforms match private investors – who have money they are willing to lend – with individuals or small companies that want to borrow, with the platforms taking a small cut of each transaction. Investors can make up to 10 per cent annual returns on their lending through the platforms. The number of P2P platforms shrank dramatically last year amid tightening regulation to arrest an epidemic of fraud and weakening investor sentiment fuelled by massive defaults. For the lending platforms that remain, the country will start a trial registration process in pilot cities during the second half of this year, according to Economic Information Daily, a state-run newspaper.
The programme will clarify the registration threshold and business boundaries for the remaining P2P services, categorising them into national and regional platforms, and require all of them to set aside general risk reserves and loan loss provision for lenders on the platforms.
“Cleaning up and exiting will be the theme [of the registration programme],” Xue Hongyan, director of the internet finance research centre at the Suning Institute of Finance, wrote in a note. “Nearly 90 per cent of all remaining platforms will not qualify for a license.”
Xue suggested that only about 100 platforms would survive under the new regulatory environment, out of the 1,021 P2P lending platforms still operating at the end of March. That number has fallen by about half from a year ago due to business failures and pressures from government regulators,
LONDON, April 8 -- The London Stock Exchange said its pan-European platform Turquoise would shift trading in euro-denominated shares to its new Dutch hub if Britain leaves the European Union at the end of the week without a deal.
British, Swiss and U.S. shares would remain on its existing platform in London, the LSE said in a statement. Turquoise was committed to offering the full range of shares on its UK platform, the LSE said in a statement on Monday. In the event of a hard Brexit on April 12, Turquoise intends to reintroduce European Economic Area shares on its London platform over the course of the year, it added. The LSE’s preparations are similar to those announced by Europe’s biggest pan-European share trading platform, Cboe, on Friday. Britain’s exit from the EU was still hanging in the balance on Monday as Prime Minister Theresa May tried to coax the Labour Party into agreeing a divorce deal, two days before an emergency summit. The sector is waiting to see if Britain’s markets watchdog will impose restrictions on where shares can be traded if there is a no-deal Brexit. The moves announced by LSE and Cboe provide flexibility to offer trading to customers in Britain and on the continent, whatever the FCA watchdog decides.
BANGKOK, March 26 -- The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index on Monday fell over concerns of a political gridlock following Sunday's general election, but the baht's value strengthened as investors offloaded their US dollar holdings.
Thailand's benchmark index closed at 1,625.91 points, down 20.38 points or 1.24%, in turnover worth 47 billion baht. A dip in Thailand's stock market followed a broader equity sell-off seen across Asia, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropping the most by 3%. Late on Monday afternoon, the Election Commission (EC) announced so far Pheu Thai Party's unofficial tally of constituency seats stood at 137, compared with the Palang Pracharath Party's (PPRP) 97.
Pheu Thai needs help from other parties to garner the 251 votes for the right to nominate the prime minister -- who is then subject to a vote from the 500 MPs together with the 250 senators. EC secretary-general Ittiporn Boonprakong said official results from at least 95% of the House of Representatives' seats will not be finalised until May 9. Pattera Dilokrungthirapop, chairwoman of the Association of Securities Companies, said the Thai stock market dropped on Monday because of a previous plunge in the Dow Jones index following steep differences between China and the US ahead of another round of bilateral trade talks. Although the general election is over, attention is fixed on which party, Pheu Thai or PPRP, will be successful in setting up a new government, said Mrs Pattera. A close race between the two political parties mean market participants are concerned about government stability in the future, she said. "The global stock markets plunged on Monday after the Sino-US trade negotiations saw no progress," said Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, chairman of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations. Both PPRP and Pheu Thai have an opportunity as leading parties to form a coalition government, while future government stability will help attract foreign inflows expected to be worth around 100 billion baht, said Mr Paiboon.
No matter which party manages to form a government, Thailand's GDP growth is not projected to expand significantly as the economy still relies on exports and tourism, with government spending and private consumption still making up minor proportions, he said. Despite a sell-off in the SET index, an opposite direction was seen for the baht as the local currency's value strengthened against the greenback. The baht is the best performing currency in Asia, gaining around 3% year-to-date. It rose to 31.63 against the dollar as of Monday's press time from 31.68 logged on Friday. The US Federal Reserve's dovish comment that it was unlikely to lift interest rates this year contributed to the firmer baht, said Jitipol Puksamatanan, chief markets strategist of the global markets group at Krungthai Bank.
But the baht's value is likely to reverse in the upcoming period as heightening political uncertainties in forming a new government should pressure the local currency, said Mr Jitipol. Such movement should be short-lived once a new government is formed after the electoral process, he said.
Ariya Tiranaprakij, senior executive vice-president of the Thai Bond Market Association (TBMA), said the yield gap between short-term and long-term US Treasury bonds was negative on Friday following the Fed's signal it would maintain interest rates, prompting the market to shift from high-risk assets to safe-haven counterparts amid concerns that an inverted yield curve is a sign of a recession. Non-resident flows in the Thai bond market were registered at 162 million baht on Monday, according to TBMA data. Returns on government short-term and long-term bonds remain positive, but returns have dipped slightly by around 1-4 basis points, said Ms Ariya.
BANGKOK, March 20 -- Foreign funds are projected to return to Thailand's stock market after the election brings more clarity to domestic politics, says Asia Plus Securities (ASP).
As of Feb 28, foreign investors' holdings of domestic equities in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) were 22.6%, a record low from an average holding of around 30%, said Pithayain Assavanig, executive director and chief financial officer at ASP. "Whatever party wins the election and becomes leader [of a coalition government], foreign investors will recognise that Thailand is a democracy. They are not interested in who forms the next government, but rather election protocols," said Mr Pithayain. "Foreign inflows are expected after the election finishes. Average daily trading value on the SET is registered at 42 billion baht, lower than last year's daily average turnover of 50 billion, said ASP. Trading value is estimated to rise for the next three quarters, with the value anticipated to be similar to that of 2018, he said.
External risks keeping a lid on investment incentives are uncertainty over the Brexit deal and the Sino-US trade disputes, said Mr Pithayain. Robo-trading transactions increased significantly in 2018, propelled by low trading commission fees of 0.03-0.04%, compared with an average commission fee of 0.09-0.10%, he said. Revenue generated from trading fees is poised to decline in the future despite an increase in the stock market's trading volume, said Mr Pithayain. ASP plans to generate revenue from investment advisory services and offer new investment products to offset a decline in trading fees. Other elements that will generate revenue for the company are asset management services, investment in startups and private equities as well as investment banking and financial advisory services. Separately, Thailand has emerged as a forerunner in developing environment, social, and governance investment (ESG) in Asean, with Thai companies having the highest share among Asean firms in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).
In 2018, five SET-listed firms put Thailand among the world's industry leaders for the highest number of firms in DJSI among Asean companies for five consecutive years. The listed firms were Banpu Plc in coal and consumable fuels, IRPC Plc in oil and gas refining and marketing, PTT Plc in oil and gas, True Corporation Plc in telecommunication services and Thai Union Group Plc in food and beverages. Challenges still remain, such as the incorrect perception of ESG investment as being costly and unprofitable, or only being relevant when considering investment in a financial market, said Upalat Korwatanasakul, programme manager for research and policy analysis at the Asean-Japan Centre.
NEW YORK, March 15 -- By 2020, women will be well on the way to holding a combined US$71.5 trillion in private wealth, according to Boston Consulting Group.
They already hold a third of the world’s total disposable assets. So why, with such huge piles of money, do women generally avoid putting it to work in the stock market or other investments? According to insight and strategy consultancy BritainThinks, only 38 percent of women compared to 53 percent of men said they feel confident making investment decisions. It is not that as a gender, women are incapable of getting their brains around finance. Some of the top roles at large financial institutions such as The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, are held by women. Rather there are more deep-rooted behavioral and societal conditions (and barriers) that mean men are the ones making a buck from investing, while women lose out by sticking to savings accounts that often earn less than inflation. We’re always keen to hear from women in finance about the secrets to success in this industry, and how they are actively encouraging others to get involved to create a more gender-balanced industry. Just after International Women’s Day, this couldn’t be more fitting.
The first thing to note is that women, despite having fought and campaigned for decades, generally earn less than men. Investment research group Morningstar this month quoted figures from the Canadian Labour Force Survey that showed women in the country aged 15 and older earned $0.87 for every dollar earned by men in 2017, measured by average hourly wages. This is a phenomenon echoed all around the world. Sarah Newcomb, who is a senior behavioral scientist at Morningstar, said: “We simply have to work harder at our finances than men because we have a longer time to plan for, more people to care for, and often lower incomes to work with.” Aside from equal pay, women continue to fight against discrimination in the workplace after a career break, meaning getting back to earning is tougher, never mind the break in pay. Newcomb said women needed to make their money work harder by investing, being smart and resourceful with their money, and making sound decisions along the way. Luckily, women are well-versed in doing all those things.
Around the world, most women take control of (and excel at) running household budgets and for those that do invest, it is the traits and skills that this budgeting requires that produce excellent results.
An analysis of 2,800 investors in 2018 by Neil Stewart, professor of behavioral science at the Warwick University Business School, found that for the prior three years, female investors had outperformed not just the FTSE 100, but they also their male counterparts. While annual returns on investments for men were on average a marginal 0.14 percent above the performance of the FTSE 100, annual returns on the investment portfolios held by women were 1.94 percent above it. This success is based on the female attention to detail, according to experts. While men enjoy frittering away their hard-earned cash on lower priced shares and riskier companies, women tend use less ‘lottery style’. Women thrive on researching – perhaps because of a tendency to talk to neighbors, friends, and even strangers in an everyday context. The thirst for information is a trait among women, and one that serves them well with investing. Born in the US, just before the Great Depression, Geraldine Weiss was among the first females to really make inroads in the finance world. Her success proves that women can be just as good, if not better, than men at investing. Weiss was self-taught – she read books, listened to conversations between her parents and peers, and studied business and finance at college. She was constantly overlooked by companies for investment-related roles, so at age 40 set up her own investment newsletter detailing her success and has written books on her (winning) approach.
Female investors also take their time and invest with an end goal in mind – home improvements, a new car or boost to their pension, for example. That is not to say that they hold on to investments that are going to cost them money, quite the contrary – they are not quick to cash in on those that are making it. Professor Stewart’s research found that while men tend to make an average of 13 trades during a year, women make just nine – demonstrating that investing to serve a long-term goal is more productive than simply for the thrill of it. Lena Birse, one of the best performing investors on eToro, explained how she puts together her portfolio. “Forget the noise and the politics, investing is about businesses,” she said. “I follow all the companies’ earning reports, read over them carefully and understand the business.” A survey by publisher Hearst UK found that 39 percent of women don’t know where to turn for financial advice, with many still thinking of City financiers as men in pinstripe suits with pots of money. This led many of them to feel excluded, as though investing was for someone other than them. Hearst UK’s Finance Editor Kaplana Fitzpatrick, who also launched the Mummy Money Matters blog, said: “It’s never as difficult or complicated as you think.” “Of course, everyone needs a helping hand when they start up but there are so many options out there,” said Ms Fitzpatrick. “Tech has made investing so much more accessible.” To all women – it is time to jump over the barriers and put your money to work – men can’t stop you making more than them through your investments. Unlike many things in life, investment is open to anyone – regardless of their gender, so don’t build barriers you don’t have to.
BANGKOK, March 14 -- The Stock Exchange of Thailand plans to commence digital asset trading operations on a new exchange next year, with core infrastructure projected to be completed in the third quarter.
SET president Pakorn Peetathawatchai said the bourse will develop a digital asset ecosystem or endto-end platform for digital assets by structuring core infrastructure such as the issuing process, asset tokenisation, trading systems, settlement systems, e-wallet and custody providers.
The SET needs to apply for licences to operate all types of services for a digital exchange, and the bourse may join hands with partners experienced in digital asset trade, Mr Pakorn said. Under the royal decree on digital assets that took effect on May 14, 2018, there are four types of secondary business intermediaries: digital exchanges, brokerage firms, dealers and token portal service providers, also known as initial coin offering (ICO) portals. Exchanges, brokers and dealers are required to apply for licences from the Finance Ministry, while ICO portals must be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. E-wallet and custody providers involved with security and trading information are among the most crucial parts of the digital asset trading system, Mr Pakorn said. The digital asset exchange will be the future of the SET, which goes hand-in-hand with developing the traditional exchange, he said.
The SET will develop a digital trading platform and will be open in 2020, he said. Market trust, good trading process and the digital asset ecosystem will increase long-term market competitiveness. Designing the digital asset exchange will take 3-4 months to complete, while building core infrastructure is expected to conclude in the third quarter, Mr Pakorn said. We have to prepare to transform to a digital asset exchange now, because the world is changing fast, and waiting may be too late to be competitive, he said. Among the initiatives to develop digital asset operations, the SET will have a meeting with market participants on March 27 to brainstorm ideas and listen to opinions from all stakeholders before structuring the new digital exchange platform.
Stakeholders who will join the meeting include market regulators, banks, securities firms, asset management firms, issuers, custodians and fintech firms. The digital asset trading platform and the planned ecosystem will serve all types of digital asset products, including cryptocurrencies, digital tokens, ICOs and securities token offerings, said SET executive vicepresident Kitti Sutthiatthasil. The platform will be designed as an open trading platform that can easily connect with other trading platforms in the future, Mr Kitti said. For 2019, Thailand’s capital market will be transformed towards digitalisation through developing infrastructure necessary for digital asset trading, Mr Pakorn said.
These include opening scripless accounts with personal identification, payment for revenue stamps for appointing brokers and allowing banking electronic payments. The SET's FundConnext will be connected to Clearstream, a post-trade services provider, to link with 56 other global markets worldwide.
FRANKFURT, March 8 -- Mario Draghi revealed the biggest cut in the European Central Bank’s economic outlook since the advent of its quantitative-easing programme as policy makers delivered a new round of stimulus to shore up growth.
The ECB president said the euro-zone economy will now expand only 1.1% this year, a drop of 0.6 percentage point from the forecast given out just three months ago. A package of assistance from new loans for banks to a longer pledge on record-low rates is intended to expand the institution’s existing stimulus, he said. “The persistence of uncertainties related to geopolitical factors, the threat of protectionism and vulnerabilities in emerging markets appears to be leaving marks on economic sentiment,” Draghi told journalists in Frankfurt on Thursday. “The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook are still tilted to the downside.”
The ECB is reverting to stimulus just three months after policy makers decided to end their bond-buying programme and hoped to start weaning the euro-area economy off its crisis-era stimulus. Their luck ran out after the export-dependent European economy buckled under the weight of trade tensions, a slowdown in China and the uncertainties around Brexit. While many anticipated the ECB would act, an announcement wasn’t expected as early as Thursday. That signals the level of concern among Governing Council members, something that’s been echoed across other institutions and central banks in recent days. The OECD slashed its forecasts for European and global growth, the Bank of Canada said there’s “increased uncertainty” about the timing of its future rate increases, and New York Federal Reserve President John Williams said the US central bank can be patient about deciding its next move.