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Baht Rises to Near 17-Month High on Speculation of More Inflows

Thailand’s baht advanced, approaching a 17-month high, on speculation the improving economic outlook and rising local stocks will attract more fund inflows into the nation. Government bonds were steady.

The currency reached 29.66 per dollar on Jan. 31, matching a 17-month high reached on Jan. 21, and official data show overseas investors poured a net $4.3 billion into government bonds and stocks this year through Feb. 1. Thailand’s SET Index of shares traded at its highest level since 1994 today, while the Bank of Thailand last month raised its 2013 growth forecast to 4.9 percent from an October estimate of 4.6 percent. Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said last week there is concern the strong baht will hurt tourism and overseas sales.

“Fund inflows and gains in the local stocks should be positive for the baht,” said Wee-Khoon Chong, a Hong Kong-based strategist at Societe Generale SA. “But there’s concern about intervention across the region, mainly for some Southeast Asian currencies like the baht.”

The baht added 0.1 percent to 29.74 per dollar as of 3:19 p.m. in Bangkok and touched 29.69 earlier, within 0.1 percent of its 17-month high, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, dropped 30 basis points, or 0.3 percentage point, to 5.27 percent.

Overseas shipments, which account for about two-thirds of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, rose 14 percent in December after a 27 percent increase the previous month, a Bank of Thailand report showed on Jan. 31.

The yield on the government’s 3.625 percent bonds maturing in June 2023 was little changed at 3.68 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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