SET up 0.79 point

Thai stocks were little changed on Friday as investors consolidated recent gains ahead of a long weekend.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index rose 0.79 point from Thursday to close at 1,392.01, an increase of 1.7% from the previous Friday's close of 1,368.90. Turnover was 31.23 billion baht, with 4.48 billion shares traded.

The local market is up 7.2% from the end of 2013.

Foreign investors were net buyers on Friday of 823.43 million baht worth of Thai shares, bringing their net buys for April to 1.82 billion baht. For the year to date they are net sellers of 18.96 billion baht.

Local institutions were net buyers of 1.3 billion baht and brokers bought 459.96 million. Individual investors were net sellers of 2.59 billion baht. 

European markets opened on Friday with modest gains and Asian markets meandered as investors awaited US jobs data for fresh trading cues.

The FTSE 100 in London was up 0.4% in early trade, while Germany's DAX and France's CAC each added 0.2%.

Wall Street appeared set for moderate gains, with Dow Jones futures up 0.1% and S&P 500 futures adding 0.2%.

A strong jobs report would boost confidence that that US economic recovery is on track while also reinforcing expectations that interest rate hikes are in the pipeline after the Federal Reserve ends its bond purchasing stimulus programme.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 edged down 0.1% on Friday to 15,063.77 and Seoul's Kospi shed 0.3% to 1,988.09. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.2% to 22,510.08. China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.7% to 2,058.83 while Australia's S&P ASX/200 added 0.2% to 5,422.80.

Stocks in Indonesia were the biggest losers, down 0.8% ahead of elections. Other Asian markets were mostly flat.

In Bangkok, the SET50 index of blue chips ended at 946.53 points, up 0.35, on turnover of 22.15 billion baht, and the SET100 rose 0.82 points to 2,079.00 in trade worth 25.75 billion. The SETHD index of high-dividend shares fell 0.29 to 1,137.35 points, with turnover of 11.65 billion baht. The Market for Alternative Investment shed 0.97 points to 397.47, with transaction value of 722.44 million baht.

In the currency markets, volatility in the baht has dropped to a four-month low as concerns about unrest ease even while the country's political stalemate drags on.

The baht traded in a range of 32.20 and 32.60 per dollar on all but five days in the past month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

"The political situation has stabilised lately and that limits the downside for the baht, but the unrest is not completely solved which will also put a cap on the upside," said Koji Fukaya, CEO of FPG Securities in Tokyo.

"The baht may remain quite directionless for the time being and volatility will probably remain stable."

One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the baht used to price options, dropped 27 basis points from a week ago to 6.03% on Friday.

The baht was trading late Friday in Bangkok around 32.53 to the dollar, compared with 32.47/50 on Thursday and 32.53/56 a week earlier.

Government bonds fell this week. The yield on the 3.625% sovereign notes due in June 2023 rose four basis points from a week ago to 3.73%.

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