Most Southeast Asia markets falter; Malaysia bucks trend

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stocks slipped on Tuesday, with Thai shares retreating in a thin market amid political concerns and prospects of weak economic growth, while Indonesia came off a week-high hit on Monday as investors booked quick profits.

The Thai SET index was down 0.5 per cent at midday, weighed by a pullback in recent gainers such as telecoms firm Advanced Info Service and builder Ch Karnchang.

Brokers expect a range-bound session ahead of a court ruling on Thailand's charter amendment on Wednesday and as the Senate continued a debate on the government's proposed 2-trillion-baht (S$78.9 billion) infrastructure loan bill.

Strategists at broker CIMB Securities rated the Thai stock market "neutral" and set the index target for end-2013 at 1,350 and for end-2014 at 1,500.

"Thailand's ongoing political crisis could affect its already-soft economy. Coinciding with the peak (festive) season, this might affect consumer spending and also delay government infrastructure spending," they wrote in a report.

Indonesia's benchmark index eased 0.4 per cent after rising to a one-week high on Monday. Shares of coal miner Adaro Energy dropped 2.5 per cent after rallying in the previous session to their highest since early May.

Jakarta-based Edwin Sebayang, head of research at MNC Securities, attributed the market's fall to profit-taking while traders in the region cited expectations of tighter global liquidity if the US Federal Reserve tapered its stimulus.

Singapore's Straits Times Index inched down 0.2 per cent after climbing to a near a two-week high on Monday. The Philippine main index lost nearly 1 per cent to the lowest in nearly one week, while Vietnam eased 0.05 per cent.

Malaysia outperformed in the region, with the main index up nearly 1 per cent, hovering at its highest in nearly two weeks and extending its gains from the past three sessions.

Among the outperformers, shares of MISC jumped 5.6 per cent, the top percentage gainer on the benchmark index. Shares of IOI Corporation rose 4 per cent to 5.68 ringgit, the third biggest gainer, after the company reported earnings for the three months ended September. Brokers said IOI earnings before foreign exchange loss showed improved performance.