Thai markets rally; uncertainty reigns
BANGKOK: The Thai King’s death saw a recovery in stocks yesterday that buckled during his final days, but analysts warned uncertainty over the nation’s future without its uniting figure posed fresh risks for an economy already battered by a decade of political turmoil. King Bhumibol Adulyadej died at the age of 88 on Thursday, ending a seven-decade reign credited with bringing a measure of stability that allowed Thailand to go from agricultural backwater to one of the region’s most industrialized economies.
But a “lost decade” of political turbulence, including mass street protests punctuated by two military coups, turned a Southeast Asian star economy into one of its slowest-growing. The military government that seized power in 2014 has reined in the damaging political turbulence but struggled to revive the lacklustre economy, with tourism a lone bright spot.
There is a risk that the king’s death could see “political tensions flare up, triggering a slowdown in economic growth,” warned Capital Economics. Market stability will be tied to a smooth royal succession, it said. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, however, was expected to be immediately named king, but he made a surprise request to delay the process, according to military junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha. “All eyes now will turn to the succession process,” the researchers added. The palace’s announcement that the king was gravely ill over the past week sent shudders through the stock market and pushed the baht to a two-month low.
But the main share index rose more than four percent yesterday, with analysts saying it had been oversold amid anxiety over the king’s health, while the baht also staged a rebound against the dollar. “The uncertainties and political risks have been more or less priced in,” Margaret Yang, an analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, told Bloomberg News. “We may still see some panic selling but I don’t expect this to last for very long. — AFP
BANGKOK: Thai people wanting to get a glimpse of the funeral caravan carrying Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, wear black clothes as they approach the vicinity of the Royal Palace in Bangkok yesterday. — AFP