Asian stocks recover as Thailand backs down on currency controls

HONG KONG, Dec 20, 2006 (AFP) – Asian stocks recovered from sharp falls Wednesday after Thailand’s military government backed down on imposing harsh currency controls which saw Bangkok shares lose a massive 15 percent.

Elsewhere, benchmarks tended to follow local factors resulting in Tokyo closing up 1.40 percent and above the critical 17,000 points mark while Sydney and Wellington registered solid gains to close at record highs.

The flip-flop and a steady performance on Wall Street overnight had investors chasing bargains following Tuesday’s sell-off amid chaos in Thailand and echoes of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

“The market is up on a recovery from yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) shocker,” said Gabriel Yap, a dealing director with Phillip Securities in Singapore.

“It’s not something that will have a systematic hold on the market.”

Late Tuesday, Thai Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula was forced into an embarrassing policy U-turn after an unprecedented 23 billion dollars was wiped off the value of Thai listed companies in one day.

The rout was triggered after the military-backed government imposed capital controls in an effort to check the increasing pressure a rising currency was putting on e