Thailand stocks plunge 10%, trading halted


A general view of empty immigration counters for Thai passport holders, following the coronavirus outbreak, at the arrival of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

BANGKOK: Thailand’s stocks slid the most since the global financial crisis as investors dumped riskier assets amid a global equity rout.

The SET Index fell 10% and triggered a trading halt. It was the second-steepest slide in a major regional equities gauge after the Philippine benchmark.

Airports of Thailand Pcl fell 12% and was the biggest drag on the SET index.

"The market is reacting now more to the fear of global investors, ” said Win Phrompaet, a fund manager at Principal Asset Management Co. in Bangkok. "This may be a time to start buying, the market has reacted too much.”

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has buckled under a collapse in tourism, a sector that accounts for about one-fifth of gross domestic product. The government this week approved a package of stimulus measures that it said will inject about 400 billion baht ($12.7 billion) to counter the blow from the coronavirus outbreak.

Thailand’s health ministry said Thursday that confirmed cases of the disease known as Covid-19 jumped by 11 to 70. That’s the biggest increase in recent days.

Separately, a gauge of consumer confidence for February fell to its lowest level since April 1999 as the virus, a delay in the annual government budget and a drought eroded sentiment, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.- Bloomberg

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