Vietnam stocks rise most in 3 weeks on bank support report, CPI

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Vietnam's stocks rose the most in almost three weeks after a report showed inflation slowed and on speculation the central bank is accelerating measures to resolve bad debt among lenders.

The VN Index climbed 1.3 percent to 483.69 at the close, the biggest gain since Feb. 6. Joint-Stock Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam, or Vietcombank, surged 2.5 percent. HAGL Joint-Stock Co. added 1.7 percent.

The nation's consumer prices climbed 7.02 percent in February from a year earlier after rising 7.07 percent in January, the General Statistics Office in Hanoi said Feb. 23. The central bank will have to pump money into the banking system this year in order to help manage bad debt and "rescue" the real-estate market, Governor Nguyen Van Binh said in an interview in the Saigon Times on Feb. 21.

"Investor sentiment has gotten better with a positive macroeconomic outlook," said Le Duc Khanh, head of market strategy at Maritime Bank Securities.

Vietnam's benchmark index has risen 17 percent this year on speculation the economy will recover from the slowest expansion in 13 years. Growth may exceed the government's target of 5.5 percent this year, the Saigon Times also cited Binh as saying.

Concern over the level of bad debts at the nation's banks has eased credit growth, damping consumer demand and squeezing companies' ability to raise capital and spur expansion. The government plans to establish a company "to resolve bad debt and help spur businesses," Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Dec. 26. About 100 trillion dong ($4.8 billion) of bad debt may be dealt with, according to a posting on the government website.

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