REUTERS - Southeast Asian stock markets were mostly up on Thursday as the United States Federal Reserve's comments on maintaining stimulus revived buying interest in the battered emerging region, with Thai and Indonesian shares leading the rally.
Thailand's benchmark SET index jumped 3.2 per cent to 1,432.56 at midday after the selloff over the past three sessions wiped around 3.7 per cent off the index and erased most of its gains so far this year.
Short-covering was seen across the board, led by shares in large-cap banks such as Kasikornbank, which was up 5 per cent. Energy shares also outperformed, bouyed by gains in global oil prices.
Indonesia's main index climbed 2.4 per cent to 4,587.63 after Wednesday's 1.7 per cent rise, with banking shares seeing some of the biggest gains, led by PT Bank Mandiri Persero and PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia Persero.
Market players awaited Bank Indonesia's interest rate review due later in the day. Analysts at Bahana Securities expect the central bank to further raise its benchmark rate to 6.50 per cent from its current level of 6.0 per cent, they wrote in a report.
Large-caps topped gainers across the region.
In Singapore, Singapore Telecommunications advanced 3.2 per cent, outperforming a 1.7 per cent rise in the benchmark Straits Times Index. Malaysia's Axiata Group Bhd was up 2.3 per cent, with the broader market up 0.6 per cent.
The Philippine index was up 1.1 per cent after upbeat economic forecasts by the International Monetary Fund.
Vietnam eased 0.2 per cent as investors awaited quarterly earnings reports.