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Thailand's Stock Market Bucks Asian Turn-Around Over Concerns for King's Health

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Thailand's stock market has bucked an Asian turn-around because of concerns about the health of King Bhumiphol Adulyadej. The revered king is considered a stabilizing force in Thailand and has been hospitalized for nearly a month.

Asian stocks rose, Thursday, after positive news from Wall Street.

In trading, Japanese stocks were up nearly two percent, while markets in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Australia were up about half a percent.

But Thailand's stock market fell for a second day, down more than five percent in trading, after rumors spread about the health of King Bhumiphol Adulyadej.

The 81-year-old king of Thailand has no formal political role but has been a unifying force in Thailand during periods of political uncertainty.

David Cohen is the director of Asian economic forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore.

"I think he's been viewed as a source of political stability, given the considerable political turmoil that Thailand has experienced over the past few years," Cohen said. "So, I think that was a source of concern, maybe just a reflex sale."

King Bhumiphol Adulyadejhas is the world's longest serving monarch. He has been in the hospital for more than three weeks, fighting what the royal palace calls a lung inflammation.

Thailand's royal palace has been issuing daily updates on the king's health that say it has gradually improved.

Wednesday the palace said his general condition was good, but that the king would need to remain in hospital until a full recovery.

Thai stocks closed down two percent, Wednesday.

Despite the dip in Thailand's stock exchange, Cohen says the country's gross domestic product has shown good signs of recovering, along with the rest of Asia, from the global down-turn.

"Most of the economies, including Thailand, showed a pick-up in the second quarter GDP, the Asian region was leading the turn around in the global picture," Cohen said.

Asian stocks rose after the DOW Jones industrial average passed the psychologically important 10,000-point mark, Wednesday.

Cohen says it is not clear how much longer markets can continue the strong gains, but says it is unlikely they will return to the crisis environment of the first quarter of this year.