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Vietnam stocks gain most in Asia on foreign ownership report

Vietnam's stocks advanced the most in Asia after reports the foreign ownership cap may be lifted for some companies and the central bank may set a maximum limit on cash payments for high-value items.

The VN Index rose for a third day, jumping 3.5 percent to 468.09 at close in Ho Chi Minh City, the biggest gain since March 5. Vietnam Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Industry & Trade climbed 6.6 percent, a record advance. Bao Viet Holdings surged 6.8 percent to the highest close since Jan. 10.

The State Securities Commission may allow some listed companies to raise their foreign ownership limit above the current 49 percent in the first quarter by issuing non-voting shares, SaigonTimes reported. The central bank may limit cash payments outside the banking system for items such as properties and vehicles by June at the latest, according to a Tuoi Tre report. The decree aims to reduce unofficial transactions to help tackle theft and tax evasion, according to the report.

"Limiting cash payments will reduce risks and boost tax revenue for the state budget, which is good for the economy," Tong Minh Tuan, head of research at Hanoi-based BIDV Securities Co., said today. Stocks also reacted positively to reports on foreign investment limits, he said.

SSC Chairman Vu Bang declined to comment on the report. Bui Quang Tien, head of the payment department at the State Bank of Vietnam, declined to comment because he's not authorized to speak to the media.