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SET closes down year on high note

Thai shares closed 1% higher on the last trading day of 2018, but the benchmark index ended with a double-digit full-year decline under the weight of the US-China trade spat and capital flight triggered by the Federal Reserve's continuous rate hikes.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index started the day tracking Wall Street's rebound and moved into positive territory for the entire session before ending at 1,536.88 in moderate trade worth 38.2 billion baht.

Although the benchmark kicked off the year with a bang, reaching an all-time high of 1,838.96 points, the rally shortly ran out of steam with the gauge shedding 10.8% in 2018.

In 2017, the SET index finished the last trading day at 1,753.71 points for an annual gain of 13.7%.

The SET's market capitalisation in 2018 plunged 9.2% from 17.6 trillion baht a year earlier to 16 trillion. Average daily turnover in 2018 was 56.4 billion baht, down 18% from 47.8 billion in 2017, according to SET data.

Foreign investors were the largest net sellers of local shares in 2018 at 287.5 billion baht, well above 2017's net sales of 25.8 billion.

Brokers' proprietary trading cashed out a net 15.3 billion baht, compared with net buying of 16.7 billion last year.

Retail investors were net buyers of 118 billion baht this year, versus net sales of 94.6 billion in 2017. Institutional investors raised their net buying to 184 billion baht from 103.6 billion last year.

The SET's dividend yield was 3.22%, up from 2.70% in 2017. The market's price-to-earnings ratio stood at 14.8 at year-end, compared with 19.1 a year earlier.

Newly listed companies totalled eight on the SET and 11 on the Market for Alternative Investment (MAI). In 2017, 22 companies listed on the SET and 17 on the second-tier exchange.

Total companies listed on the SET rose to 545 at the end of 2018 from 538 a year earlier, while those on the MAI increased to 159 from 150.

The MAI closed 2018 at 356.44 points, down 34% from 540.37 at the end of 2017, with average daily turnover sliding 46.4% to 1.26 billion baht from 2.36 billion in the previous year.

Online trading value for the SET and the MAI combined fell to 515 billion baht as of November from 608 billion in 2017. In terms of ratio, internet trading dropped to 28.2% of total trading value as of November from 31% in 2017.

Market capitalisation generated from allocating initial public offering (IPO) shares to the general public also fell considerably to 183 billion baht -- missing the SET's target of 250-300 billion baht, excluding the Thailand Future Fund (TFFIF) -- from an all-time high of 426 billion last year.

The number of listed securities this year was nearly halved to 23 from 46 in 2017.

Of the 23 securities, 19 were listed companies, three were real estate investment trusts (REITs) and the remaining one was an infrastructure fund.

Osotspa Plc (OSP) emerged as the biggest IPO by market capitalisation this year at 75.1 billion baht -- more than one-third of total market value generated from IPO share sales.

TFFIF was the biggest IPO issue in terms of fund mobilisation. The infrastructure fund whose underlying assets are expressways raised 44.7 billion baht from the primary market.

The 23 IPOs' fund-raising size was a combined 81.6 billion baht, down from 97.5 billion for IPOs in the previous year.

Three stocks listed on the MAI gained more than 50% in their debuts. M Vision Plc (MVP), the organiser of Thailand Mobile Expo, emerged as the best performer on its first day of trade, soaring 71.6%.

Thai Plastic Industrial 1994 Plc (TPLAS) was second with a 60.8% first-day gain, followed by DOD Biotech Plc (DOD) with 58.1%.

Bhiraj Office Leasehold Real Estate Investment Trust (BOFFICE) was the strongest IPO debut on the SET, rising 17% from the IPO price.

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