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Thai stocks slip 2% in early trade after coup

Thailand's stock market sank more than two percent soon after opening Friday, a day after the army declared a coup and imposed a curfew that has already hit work at Japanese car giants Toyota and Honda.

BANGKOK: Thailand's stock market sank more than two percent soon after opening Friday, a day after the army declared a coup and imposed a curfew that has already hit work at Japanese car giants Toyota and Honda.

Shares tumbled 2.12 percent, or 29.80 points, to 1,375.41 as the army seized power, declaring a nationwide night-time curfew and curbs on civil liberties. The market later recovered some losses to sit 1.50 percent lower.

The military also ordered masses of rival demonstrators off Bangkok's streets that over the past seven months have seen deadly anti-government demonstrations.

The new junta headed by General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thursday the coup was staged "in order for the country to return to normal quickly".

"All Thais must remain calm and government officials must work as normal," he said in a brief televised address announcing the takeover, flanked by top military and police officials.

On Friday military leaders summoned more than 100 prominent figures from rival political camps, including "Red Shirt" leaders, former police and military officers and politicians from the opposing parties.

Toyota and Honda said they had been forced to close their factories in the country in order to comply with the curfew.

A Toyota spokesman in Tokyo told AFP output was stopped during the night at all three of its assembly plants, adding added that work would carry on as normal during the day shift on Friday. A decision on Friday's night shift would be taken later in the day.

Honda Motor also said it had shortened hours at its plant, closing at 8:00 pm instead of the original planned shutdown at midnight. It said no decision had yet been taken on Friday's evening work.

Despite the long-running crisis, the Stock Exchange of Thailand is still one of Asia's best performers in 2014.

And the baht -- which only last year came under pressure against the dollar on concerns a wind-down of the US stimulus programme would hit investment -- held its ground against the greenback.

In early Friday trade it rose to 32.44 against the greenback from 32.54 on Thursday.

Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, said the latest events could help the country in the short term.

"The coup reduces uncertainty about the immediate outlook and, in particular, the possibility that the political standoff would turn much more violent," he said. "For these reasons it could actually be positive both for Thailand's economy and financial markets in the near term."

Although the economy shrank for the first time in two years in January-March, analysts say it has been largely immune to shocks -- the nation has long been nicknamed "Teflon Thailand" for its record of resilience in the face of political upheaval.

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