Thai mar­kets rally; uncer­tainty reigns

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

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.

Long-term fears

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

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