Stocks rise to two-month high

Thai stocks advanced, sending the benchmark index to a two-month high, after anti-government protesters removed blockades at four main intersections in central Bangkok.

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The SET Index surged 1.3% to 1,342.25 at the midday break. That’s its fifth day of gains, set for the longest rally since October. The gauge's jump today is the most among Asian benchmark rivals. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.8% as tensions over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine intensified.

Demonstrators removed the blockades today to help alleviate the impact on businesses and commuters in the capital, Suthep Thaugsuban, a protest leader, said on Feb 28. Global funds have pulled a net US$1.07 billion from the nation’s stocks this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The move may help ease political risk, which will boost tourism-related stocks, according to Asset Plus Fund Management Co.

"Political confrontation has subsided substantially with the end of several main blockades in Bangkok’s business centre," Supongvorn Mianpoka, senior vice-president at Asset Plus, which oversees about $850 million of assets, said by phone. "The tourism sector will be the biggest beneficiary."

Airports of Thailand Plc, the nation’s biggest airport operator, rose 2.7%, on course for its highest close since Nov 25. Minor International, an operator of hotel resorts and fast-food restaurants, jumped 3.8%. Central Plaza surged 5.8% and Asia Aviation, which controls Thailand’s biggest budget airline, added 4.2%.

Traffic opened at those intersections after demonstrators disassembled their stages and obstacles, the police said on their website on Monday.

Demonstrators have set up a new rally site at Lumpini Park and will stage a rally against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government by pressuring some key ministries to stop working, according to Mr Suthep.

At least 23 people have been killed since protests against Yingluck’s government began in late October, according to government data.

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