Vietnam's stocks advanced the most among Asia's largest equity markets on speculation the government will take steps to help companies cope with inflation and a slowing economy.
The VN Index rose 1.8 percent to 441.83 as of 11:46 a.m. in Ho Chi Minh City, heading for the highest close since May 22, 2012. Bao Viet Holdings, the biggest Vietnamese insurer, rallied 4.9 percent to 48,900 dong. Masan Group Corp. jumped 4.8 percent to 110,000 dong.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung requested ministries and provinces to keep prices of essential goods and fuel stable ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in an attempt to rein in inflation, according to a Jan. 7 statement on the Finance Ministry's website. The government will take measures to address economic challenges in 2013, Dung said Jan. 1.
Confidence is "being supported by fundamental positive news such as recent government talks on measures to boost companies this year," Le Thi Hai Duong, brokerage manager at Hanoi-based BIDV Securities Co., said by phone today. "Most investors chose to buy stocks as it's more profitable than putting their money in banks or gold these days."
Vietnam's inflation rate slowed for the first time in four months in December, with consumer prices rising 6.81 percent from a year earlier after climbing 7.08 percent in November. The World Bank said on Dec. 5 that core inflation is "still very high."
Gross domestic product rose 5.03 percent last year, down from 5.89 percent in 2011 and the least since 1999, the General Statistics Office said in Hanoi Dec. 25.