SET up 2.87 points

Thai stocks completed a good week with an advance of 0.2% on Friday as investors grew more optimistic about the prospects of a solution to the country's political deadlock.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index rose 2.87 points from Thursday to close at 1,355, an increase of 2.3% from the previous Friday's close of 1,325.33 Turnover was 27.78 billion baht, with 5.45 billion shares traded.

The local market is now up 4.4% from the end of 2013.

Foreign investors were net sellers on Friday of 366 million baht worth of Thai shares but are net buyers of 5.3 billion for the month to date. For the year to date they are net sellers of 29.7 billion baht.

Local institutions were net buyers of 1.29 billion baht while brokers sold 685 millionand individual investors were net sellers of 238.9 million baht.  

World stock markets were muted Friday as investors turned cautious ahead of the release of a US employment report and Chinese economic indicators.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average gained 0.9% to 15,274.07 while South Korea's Kospi inched down 0.1% to 1,974.68. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 5,462.20.

European markets opened mostly down. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.2%, Germany's DAX was down 0.7% and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.2%. Wall Street was poised for an uninspiring opening, with Dow Jones and S&P 500 futures both little changed ahead of the February employment report due out later Friday.

In Bangkok, the SET50 index of blue chips ended at 916.97 points, up 0.93 points, with total trade value of 15.58 billion baht. The SETHD index of high-dividend shares rose 0.19 points to 1,106.53, with turnover of 7.59 billion baht. The Market for Alternative Investment gained 3.84 points to 391.09, with transaction value of 1.42 billion baht.

In the currency markets,the baht advanced on increased fund inflows as investors responded positively to the dismantling of anti-government protest stages on Bangkok's streets.

Global funds purchased $175 million more Thai equities than they sold this week through Thursday and poured a net $250 million into bonds, official data show.

"Although political problems persist in Thailand, the direction of the situation is at least turning to better from worse and that spurred some inflows of funds and provided support for the baht and Thai assets," said Koji Fukaya, chief executive officer and currency strategist at FPG Securities in Tokyo.

"Easing geopolitical risks in the global market from the Russia-Ukraine situation also helped emerging currencies."

The baht was trading late Friday in Bangkok at 32.27 to the dollar, compared with 32.31.33 on Thursday and 32.64/66 a week earlier.

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