Channel NewsAsia

Thai stocks fall after martial law; Jakarta down on political uncertainty

Asian markets mostly rose on Tuesday following gains on Wall Street. But Thai shares ended 1.13 percent lower after the army declared martial law while Indonesian stocks declined 2.37 percent to a near two-week low on uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential election in July.

HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose on Tuesday following gains on Wall Street. But Thai shares ended 1.13 percent lower after the army declared martial law while Indonesian stocks declined 2.37 percent to a near two-week low on uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential election in July.

Elsewhere, investors were focusing on the release later in the week of several key economic indicators and minutes from the latest US Federal Reserve policy meeting.

Tokyo rose 0.49 percent, or 68.81 points, to 14,075.25 after four straight days of losses, Sydney gained 0.21 percent, or 11.4 points, to 5,420.4 and Hong Kong added 0.57 percent, or 130.18 points, to 22,834.68.

Shanghai was 0.15 percent higher, adding 2.94 points to 2,008.12. Seoul ended 0.19 percent lower, losing 3.88 points to 2,011.26.

US stocks were lifted by a rally in tech shares, which have suffered heavy selling in recent weeks on concerns big-ticket firms such as Twitter and Netflix were overvalued.

The upbeat atmosphere came after Apple and Google said late Friday they were dismissing lawsuits against each other and would work together on patent reform. The good news spread throughout Wall Street.

The Nasdaq rose 0.86 percent, the Dow added 0.12 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.38 percent Monday.

Attention now turns to the release of Japanese trade data on Wednesday as well as the Bank of Japan's latest policy meeting.

That will be followed by the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting, which will give a better insight into the thinking of board members.

Thursday will see HSBC release its preliminary results on May manufacturing activity in China, with analysts hoping for signs of a pick-up in the world's number two economy.

The British banking giant will also unveil its early results for the eurozone and United States later Thursday.

In Bangkok, the Stock Exchange of Thailand ended 1.13 percent lower after the army's martial law announcement, which followed almost seven months of anti-government protests that have left 28 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Army officials said the move had been made "to restore peace and order for people from all sides", stressing that it "is not a coup".

However, the market pared initial losses of 1.50 percent, while the baht only eased slightly against the dollar as analysts indicated the move could prove positive for the economy in the long term.

The dollar edged up to 32.51 baht early Tuesday from 32.47 baht on Monday.

Invesco fund manager Jalil Rasheed said the imposition of martial law was a surprise, given the military has stayed away from the political standoff.

He said Thailand's brand "is definitely taking a beating" but from a markets perspective, "the largest participants are local retail investors, who have been through this before".

Despite the long-running political stand-off the Thai stock exchange is still up more than seven percent this year.

It even edged up on Monday after data showed the economy shrank in the first three months of 2014 because of the impact of the disorder on tourism and consumer confidence. The contraction is the first since the end of 2011.

Indonesia's JSX ended down 2.4%, with the benchmark losing ground after a political alliance between one of the country's largest political parties and presidential contender Prabowo Subianto increased the chances of a tight race in the Indonesian election.

In other forex trade the greenback was at 101.38 yen against 101.45 yen in New York, while the euro fetched $1.3695 and 138.83 yen compared with $1.3709 and 139.13 yen.

Oil prices rose on growing concerns about lawlessness in crude-producer Libya.

The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in June, added 12 cents to $102.73 in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for July rose 16 cents to $109.53

Gold fetched $1,292.90 an ounce at 1045 GMT compared with $1,299.89 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Mumbai rose 0.06 percent, or 13.83 points, to end at 24,376.88 points;

-- Kuala Lumpur fell 0.31 percent, or 5.91 points, to finish at 1,881.16;

-- Singapore rose 0.09 percent, or 3.04 points, to 3,265.47;

-- Taipei fell 0.14 percent, or 12.11 points, to 8,887.79; 

-- Manila closed 0.17 percent higher, adding 11.83 to close at 6,882.73.

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