Shares slide on rate worries, weak earnings

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Recap: Global shares tumbled yesterday as fears about the pace of monetary policy tightening and weaker-than-expected earnings from Wall Street continued to sour investor confidence.

The SET index moved in a range of 1,641.86 and 1,682.93 points this week before closing yesterday at 1,652.73, down 1.19% from the previous week, in daily turnover averaging 90.97 billion baht.

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Retail investors were net buyers of 11.09 billion baht. Institutional investors were net sellers of 6.06 billion baht, foreign investors sold 4.44 billion and bokerage firms offloaded 585.59 million baht worth of shares.

Newsmakers: The world’s 10 wealthiest men doubled their fortunes to a collective $1.5 trillion during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic as poverty and inequality soared, a report by Oxfam said on Monday.

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The consumer goods giant Unilever on Wednesday said it would not increase its £50-billion offer for the consumer healthcare unit owned by the pharmaceutical groups GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.

Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon began 5G service in the United States on Wednesday without major disruptions to flights after the launch of the new wireless technology was scaled back.

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The US Federal Reserve on Thursday said it was taking the “first step” in discussions about issuing a digital currency, saying potential benefits include helping preserve the dominant international role of the dollar.

China further reduced bank lending costs on Thursday in the latest move to boost its stuttering economy, providing some much-needed support to beleaguered property developers.

Britain’s unemployment rate dropped and payrolls recovered further at the end of last year despite the onset of the Omicron variant, official data showed on Tuesday.

Japan’s central bank has revised its inflation forecast and adjusted its view of price risks, while leaving monetary easing policy in place in a nod to lingering pandemic uncertainty.

Workers in Singapore who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 may risk losing their jobs as new restrictions on office access take effect.

Singapore’s financial regulator has told cryptocurrency industry companies to refrain from advertising their services to the public, in line with the city-state’s desire to curb retail speculation in volatile digital assets.

Indonesia lifted a ban on all foreign arrivals and kept the required isolation period to 7 days in a bid to keep the economy going, even as local Covid infections continued to climb.

Indonesia’s central bank said on Thursday that it had been attacked last month by ransomware, but the risk from the attack had been mitigated and did not affect its public services.

Russia’s central bank has proposed banning the use and mining of cryptocurrencies on Russian territory, citing threats to financial stability and citizens’ wellbeing. The security services also claim cryptocurrencies are used to fund the country’s opposition.

Union Bank of the Philippines plans to offer trading and custodial services for cryptocurrencies, predicting the average Filipino investor will hold 3% to 5% of their personal assets in digital assets in five years’ time.

Gold prices held near two-month highs around $1,840 an ounce yesterday as a retreat in US Treasury yields and the dollar sparked investor interest, with concerns surrounding inflation and geopolitics lending support.

Oil prices slipped from their highest close since 2014 after US President Joe Biden pledged to continue trying to lower prices and an industry report pointed to a modest increase in US crude stockpiles.

The government is inching towards imposing some new taxes, such as one on profits from cryptocurrency trades, and ending tax waivers to ensure fiscal stability and expand the tax base, says Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

The Commerce Ministry is putting chickens and chicken meat on the state price control list and rolling out more stringent measures for chicken raisers and slaughterhouses as high meat prices have become a major concern for consumers.

The Test & Go quarantine-free entry programme for vaccinated international visitors will be reintroduced on Feb 1 with rules tweaked to allow closer monitoring of their health, including a second PCR test.

The resumption of Test & Go should allow the country to attract at least 8 million tourists this year, the Tourism and Sports Ministry says.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry will reduce the budget for the “Tour Teaw Thai” tour package subsidy programme, while slashing the projected number of tour packages from a million to 200,000 amid weak demand.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved the allocation of 1.48 billion baht from the central budget to fund programmes to reduce the cost of living over a period of three months.

The fourth phase of the government’s “Khon La Khrueng” co-payment subsidy scheme will be launched in mid-February, to help people with living costs.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is worried global oil prices may soar to US$100 a barrel, threatening to worsen the inflation rate and economic recovery.

The first shipment of 1,000 tonnes of Thai rice has been delivered using the Laos-Chinese railway to Chongqing, marking a new chapter in exports to China, the Agriculture Ministry announced on Thursday.

Suvarnabhumi airport’s 7.8-billion-baht expansion project is expected to begin in July with bidding to choose a contractor, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Tuesday.

The cabinet approved a budget of 14.6 billion baht on Tuesday to build the long-delayed 4km Kathu-Patong expressway in Phuket with investment via public-private partnership (PPP).

The cabinet has approved proposals including a 5-year visa with a 5-year renewal to attract affluent foreigners. The targets are the rich, retirees, remote workers and experts. The aim is to boost the economy and investment.

SET-listed Asia Aviation (AAV), the majority shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA), has completed fundraising of 14 billion baht to strengthen its financial position for a future rebound.

Coming up: Germany will release a manufacturing PMI update on Monday and Britain and the US will release manufacturing and services PMI. Australia will announce third-quarter consumer prices on Tuesday, Germany will release the January business climate index and the US will release January consumer confidence.

New Zealand will release December trade figures on Wednesday and the US will release December new home sales and crude oil inventories. The US Federal Reserve will discuss the results of its policy meeting on Wednesday (2am Thursday Thailand time). The Bank of Canada will also announce its interest rate decision on Wednesday.

The US will release fourth-quarter GDP, December core durable goods orders and pending home sales on Thursday. New Zealand will release fourth-quarter consumer prices. Australia will release fourth-quarter producer prices on Friday and the US will release December personal spending.

Stocks to watch: SCB Securities says high inflation and impending interest rate increases will pressure investor sentiment and make global equity markets volatile in the short term. It recommends investing around 50% of one’s portfolio in fundamental stocks with a positive outlook: half of that portion in blue-chips including KBANK, GPSC, INTUCH and SPALI, and half in AMATA, ZEN, LH, GULF, DELTA, ADVANC, ONEE, SECURE and XPG.

KTBST Securities said the return of quarantine-free entry for international travellers will benefit hotel and tourism-related stocks while pressuring healthcare. The brokerage’s picks include ERW, CENTEL and MINT among hotels; AAV and AOT for aviation; CPN and CRC for commerce; BEM and BTS for ground transport; AMATA, WHA and PIN for industrial estates; PLANB, MAJOR and VGI for media; and SMD and MEGA for medical equipment and food supplements.

Technical view: SCB Securities sees support at 1,642 points and resistance at 1,672. Thanachart Securities sees support at 1,632 and resistance at 1,667.

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