BANGKOK: Thai stocks underperformed in Southeast Asia on Friday as investors dumped shares on the final trading day of the year amid mounting political uncertainty and a proposed delay in February elections which the government has rejected.
Other share markets rose in a thin market, with Asian shares notching up gains after another powerful performance by Wall Street. Shares in Malaysia led the pack, with the key index climbing 0.9 per cent to 1,859.91, a record high.
Thai benchmark SET index shed 1.3 per cent by mid-day to 1291.34, sliding at one point to 1,288.02, the lowest since August 30. Shares of mall operator Central Pattana Pcl and hotelier Minor International Pcl were among losers.
Trading volumes on the Thai stock market dropped off as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a five-day weekend. The market will reopen on December 2.
The index is poised to end the year 7.23 per cent lower, underperforming its regional peers and the third-worst performer in Asia. It rallied 35.8 per cent last year, Southeast Asia's best performer.
Brokers said the political conflicts pointed to near-term weakness.
"We believe the overhang will persist in January given a significantly different stance between the government and protesters," strategists of broker KGI Securities wrote in a report.
The baht traded in 32.76-32.82 range against the dollar so far on the day, in sight of the weakest level since March 2010, amid a drop in factory output in November.
Stocks in Singapore rose 0.5 per cent to their highest in more than three weeks, while Indonesia was up 0.4 per cent on resuming trade after holidays. Vietnam rose 0.56 per cent due to gains in blue chips.
Philippine shares edged up 0.5 per cent, on track for a slim gain of 1.6 per cent for 2013, after a nearly 33 per cent surge in 2012. The Philippines is heading for a five-day weekend, resuming on December 2.-- Reuters