By Wee Sui Lee

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2007, 16:48 [IST]
 

SINGAPORE, Apr 18 (Reuters) Southeast Asian indexes -- which have touched record highs in the past few days -- mostly pulled back on Wednesday, with big names such as Singapore Telecommunications leading the declines.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index <.STI> dipped 0.03 percent, while Malaysia's index, which set record closing highs for the previous two consecutive sessions, fell 0.46 percent.

The Philippines index <.PSI> fell 0.69 percent, after hitting its highest level in more than a month on Tuesday. By 0434 GMT, Thailand's index <.SETI> had slipped 0.27 percent.

Indonesia's index <.JKSE>, which advanced to fresh intraday peaks for three days in a row, bucked the overall trend with a rise of 0.34 percent, and is heading for a new all-time high.

''The blue chips have gone up and it's hard to generate new stories on why investors should buy them now,'' said Chan Tuck Sing, a dealing director at UOB Kay Hian in Singapore, adding that these stocks are now fairly valued.

''Increasingly, investors are moving away from the prime names to the less common ones. That shows the market is running out of ideas,'' he added.

Indexes in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have hit new highs in recent weeks, chalking up the biggest gains among Asian markets in the year-to-date thanks to low interest rates and net foreign inflows into the region.

But some dealers in Singapore said that investor interest in big-caps is waning as many of these stocks now look expensive.

Singapore Telecommunications, Southeast Asia's largest telecoms firm, led losses with a fall of 1.7 percent, after hitting its highest level in more than two months on Tuesday.

CapitaLand , Southeast Asia's biggest property firm, and Keppel Corp. , the world's top rig builder, fell after touching record highs on Tuesday. CapitaLand dropped 1.8 percent and Keppel lost 0.5 percent.

In Manila, property firm Megaworld Corp. fell 4.1 percent, while Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) , the country's largest listed firm, slipped 0.6 percent.

''We're in a profit-taking mode. We need a catalyst fundamentally, but right now, we don't have that yet,'' said Jose Vistan, analyst with AB Capital Securities.

''We've had two consecutive sessions of 50-point gains, which makes the market susceptible to a correction.'' In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's biggest company by market value, power utility Tenaga Nasional , led losses with a fall of 2.4 percent, after the stock hit its highest level in more than a month on Tuesday.

Maxis Communications , Malaysia's top mobile network operator, fell 1.6 percent after setting a record high on Tuesday.

In Bangkok, banks led losses, on expectations that the lenders would report weaker first-quarter profits next week as high funding costs squeezed net margins and loan growth slowed in a flagging economy. [ID:nBKK168331].

Bangkok Bank , Thailand's biggest bank, fell 0.9 percent, while Bank of Ayudhya lost 1.4 percent.

In Jakarta, PT Astra International , the country's largest automotive distributor, was among the top gainers, up 3.3 percent, on news that Indonesia's motorcycle sales in March grew about 31.5 percent from a year ago. [ID:nJAK231597].

REUTERS SRS RN1141


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