Thai stocks tumble second day

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BANGKOK, Aug 9 – Thai stocks closed 3.31 per cent lower on Tuesday as investors panicked and continued unloading their portfolios fuelled by fears of the consequences of the U.S. credit downgrade, the European debt crisis and a new global downturn.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index shed 35.65 points to close at 1,042.54 points in trade worth Bt63 billion. Foreign investors were net sellers of almost Bt9 billion worth of stocks.

In other regional markets, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 5.7 per cent to 19,330.70, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average ended 1.7 per cent lower at 8,944.48, and China’s main market in Shanghai fared only moderately better, closing less than a point lower at 2,645.70.

Analysts said the focus was on a regular monetary policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve later today, with investors likely to look for hints about any new monetary stimulus programme to stabilise markets amid mounting expectations of a global recession.

Local gold prices hit another record high as the metal was in higher demand as money fled to whatever was seen as a safer harbour. Prices jumped 950 baht to Bt25,100 per baht weight (15.16 grammes) for gold bar and Bt25,500 for gold ornaments.

Volatility was high with the Gold Traders Association adjusting prices 19 times during the day.

In the currency markets, the Thai baht was trading on Tuesday at 29.94 to the US dollar compared with Monday’s rate of 29.84.

Bank of Thailand (BoT) Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said the baht’s movement has stabilised and the central bank has not intervened in foreign exchange markets.