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7 Aug 2008

Financial Markets

Mutual Fund Outlook, Remainder of 2008: Rife with Negative Factors (Current Issue No.2092)

In the first seven months of 2008, the mutual fund business suffered a bit of setback; however sales of investment units by asset management companies were quite sluggish. The NAV (net asset value) of all mutual funds in 7M08 grew only 2.40 percent to THB1,460,886.8 million as of July 25, 2008, against the THB1,426,626.9 million as of 2007. This 2.40 percent growth was much lower than the 25.83 percent growth achieved in 7M07 (dates inclusive were December 31, 2006 to July 31, 2007) despite 134 newly established funds during that period.
The mutual fund business is now rife with both negative domestic and external factors that have contributed to their slower from the previous year, as reflected by the lower NAV growth in 7M08. Major negative domestic factors affecting mutual fund investments in Thailand have included Thailand's disputes with neighboring countries, dampening the investment climate domestically, while external challenges include the slowing US and world economies, as well as the current oil crisis.
It is expected that these negative factors will continue to plague the mutual fund business over the rest of this year (August – December 2008), thus slowing consumer demand for mutual fund investments, especially for equity funds. However, there are some positive factors that may salvage certain mutual fund business. They include tax incentives for Retirement Mutual Funds(RMF) and Long Term Equity Funds (LTF). Other factors would be the enforcement of the Deposit Protection Acton August 11, 2008, which will likely induce investors to invest more into mutual funds, instead of depositing money with the commercial banks, plus higher returns on bonds relative to bank deposit rates.

Meanwhile, Foreign Investment Funds (fixed income funds) may recover later this year, thanks to a wider spread in foreign interest rates. In addition, commodity fund have increasing become attractive to investors because of the upward trend in global commodity prices, which show higher returns than inflation rates. As a result, investors should diversify their risk by investing in different types of assets and considering the types of investment that best suit their liquidity, the expected returns and their personal risk appetite.

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