SET at new high, amid political uncertantity

The country has it’s problems, but it seems more an more investors are becoming thick skinned when it comes to political turmoil. Story:

This week, foreigners have helped push Thailand’s stock exchange to its highest level since the financial crisis that began here a decade ago, with net foreign buying on Monday and Tuesday of $300 million, according to Keith Neruda, head of Thailand research at UBS Securities in Bangkok.

Yet the country’s economic outlook is mixed. Thailand’s exports of cars, electronics and agricultural products continue to surge – one reason for the continued appreciation of the baht. But the banking system now has one of the highest levels of non-performing loans in Asia, 8.7 percent, according to Neruda at UBS. By contrast, bad loans account for 2.9 percent of lending in Singapore and 0.6 percent in Hong Kong.

Never mind, Thailand is on a roll:

Thailand’s main stock market index, largely driven by foreign buying, has risen about 21 percent since the beginning of the year. Foreign investors have bought $3 billion more than they have sold on the Thai stock exchange since January. Thai investors have been net sellers of the same amount.

Foreign tourists continue to arrive in record numbers despite the New Year bombings in Bangkok that killed three bystanders and the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand. From January to April, 5 percent more foreign tourists arrived at Bangkok’s international airport than in the same period last year. In Phuket, the increase was 21 percent and in Chiang Mai, 9 percent. Overall, about 14 million tourists visited Thailand in 2006.

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