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Analysts wary of SET proposal

Stock market analysts and investors have offered a lukewarm response to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's proposal for the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) to extend its trading hours, saying they are unsure how the idea will increase trading on the bourse.

Therdsak Taweetiratam, executive vice-president of Asia Plus Securities, said the proposal is unlikely to harm the stock exchange, but it is unclear how it will pump up trading.

“The question is what type of investors the government aims to target with this policy? If the answer is Thai investors, I think there is no need to extend the trading hours because the current window is adequate,” he told the Bangkok Post.

“If the government wants to attract more foreign investors, from which markets, Asia or Western countries? The extension would make the operating hours overlap with other bourses.”

The SET is currently open for trade on Monday to Friday from 10am to 12.30pm and 2.30pm to 4.30pm.

After a discussion with Mr Srettha earlier this month, SET president Pakorn Peetathawatchai said the bourse studied the possibility of a trading hour extension, but the benefits are likely insignificant. The SET is planning a public hearing about the proposal to take into account stakeholders’ opinions before making a conclusion.

Other analysts including Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, chairman of the Investment Analysts Association and chief executive of Tisco Securities, expressed similar views about extending trading hours. Some of them said Mr Srettha’s idea would not necessarily increase trading as the current operating hours are appropriate.

Mr Therdsak said the main issue for foreign investors is the quality of Thai stocks available on the bourse.

“If the quality of Thai stocks is not attractive enough, foreign investors tend to hold off on buying,” he said.

“It’s not only recently that foreign investors have divested Thai stocks. Over the past 10 years, they sold more than 900 billion baht worth of Thai shares. Local institutional investors have also reduced their investments significantly.”

To increase trading among local investors, Mr Therdsak joined other analysts in calling on the government to bring back the long-term equity fund (LTF), which was replaced by the super savings fund in 2020.

Veteran stock trader Watchara Kaewsawang agreed with Mr Therdsak that reviving LTFs, which were abolished by the previous government, could boost stock trading.

“I have nothing against the idea of extending SET operating hours. But I think LTFs can effectively increase trading by local investors and stimulate savings among Thais,” said Mr Watchara.

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