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Poll furore, US shutdown hit SET index

Monday's decline steepest in Asean

An investor looks at a wall of red at Asia Plus Securities' stock board. (Photo by Taweechai Tawatpakorn)

Thailand's stock market saw the largest slump in Southeast Asia as recent shockwaves in domestic politics and another possible US government shutdown riled investor confidence.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index closed on Monday at 1,638 points, down 13.68 points or - 0.83%, in turnover worth 40.7 billion baht.

Institutional were net sellers of 2.3 billion baht, while foreign investors unloaded 1.6 billion worth of shares.

Monday's decline was the steepest in Asean, higher than the 0.41% slump in the Jakarta Composite index.

Domestic political risks have returned to the fore as the Election Commission will consider a complaint seeking to ban the pro-Thaksin Thai Raksa Chart party after its controversial bid last Friday to make Princess Ubolratana its prime minister candidate for the March 24 general election, said investment analyst Prakit Siriwattanaket.

Princess Ubolratana is still a royal family member and is not allowed to take political positions, although she has stepped down to be a commoner, according to His Majesty the King's announcement late on Friday.

The royal announcement published in the Royal Gazette was nationally televised.

If the Thai Raksa Chart party is dissolved, the other pro-Thaksin party Pheu Thai could lose more seats to opposition parties, said Mr Prakit.

Thai Raksa Chart is viewed as an offshoot of Pheu Thai and was established about a decade ago before rebranding and relaunching late last year.

Nuttachart Mekmasin, executive director at Trinity Securities, said institutional and foreign investors have offloaded local equities to reduce their risk exposure on the back of heightening domestic political risk.

Shares associated with, or with a legacy tied to, the Shinawatra family tumbled from Thursday's surge.

Shares of SC Asset Corporation Plc (SC) plummeted by 5.7% from Friday's close to end the day at 2.98 baht per share.

Shares of Advanced Info Service Plc (ADVANC), InTouch Holdings Plc (INTUCH) and Thaicom Plc (THCOM), all of which have a legacy tied to Thaksin, stumbled by 3.72%, 4.82% and 9.83%, respectively.

Domestic political sentiments will only affect these equities on a short-term basis as the stock fundamentals remain unchanged, said Mr Prakit.

Besides developments on US-China trade talks, another possible US government shutdown if lawmakers fail to negotiate a compromise on border security before a Feb 15 deadline also keeps a lid on investor confidence, he said.

Payment compliance

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday announced that billionaire Prasert Prasarttong-osoth and two other offenders agreed to comply with the SEC's civil sanction ruling by paying a combined sum of 499.45 million baht.

From Nov 13, 2015 to Jan 12 2016, Dr Prasert, Poramaporn Prasarttong-osoth and Narumon Chainaknan colluded to sell and purchase Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited (BA) shares with each other continuously in a way of concealment to mislead the public on the price or volume of BA shares.

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