Thai stocks underperform as martial law declared

May 20, 2014
Two motorcyclists ride past cosmetic advertisement signs in downtown Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, Monday, May 19, 2014. Thailand's economy contracted by 2.1 percent in the first quarter, slammed by a protracted political crisis that is likely to slow growth for the rest of the year. (AP PhotoApichart Weerawong)

HONG KONG (AP) — Thailand's stock market underperformed its counterparts in Asia and around the world on Tuesday after the military declared martial law in what it called an attempt to stabilize the country's precarious political situation.

Bangkok remained calm after Thailand's military took control of public security nationwide, surrounding police headquarters in the capital as they broadcast the announcement before dawn from multiple television stations. It requested TV channels run by opposing political camps to suspend broadcasts.

The move, which the military insists is not a coup, follows months of anti-government demonstrations and a refusal by the caretaker prime minister to step down.

"We're likely going to be looking at more unrest on the ground and if that's the case sentiment is going to worsen a lot more and the Thai market may see further downside," said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

The benchmark SET index in Bangkok closed down 1.1 percent at 1,394.70.

Amid a dearth of economic news, stock markets elsewhere drifted.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed down 0.6 percent at 6,802.00 while France's CAC 30 slipped 0.4 percent to 4,452.35. Germany's DAX ended 0.2 percent at 9,639.08.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.6 percent at 16,409 while the broader S&P 500 index fell 0.5 percent to 1,875.

Elsewhere in Asia, Asia markets ended mostly higher, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 up 0.5 percent to close at 14,075.25. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6 percent to 22,834.68 but South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.2 percent to 2,011.26. China's Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.2 percent to 2,008.12.

Elsewhere trading was muted with the euro down 0.1 percent at $1.3694 while the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 101.23 yen. Meanwhile, a barrel of benchmark New York crude was up 20 cents at $102.31.