Consumer confidence rose for a fifth straight month in February, hitting a 19-month high, as consumers believe in the prospects for the economy, employment and job opportunities.
Confidence was given a big boost after the National Economic and Social Development Board reported the Thai economy expanded sharply year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2012, up from the widespread floods in late 2011, said Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research and director of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Gross domestic product grew by 18.9% in the three months to December from a year earlier after expanding a revised 3.1% the previous quarter.
This is the fastest growth since Thailand began compiling data in 1993.
The expansion was driven by manufacturing, hotels, restaurants and construction, while robust private consumption, private investment and government spending also contributed.
Mr Thanavath pointed to the steady interest rate, the export recovery, and baht appreciation as other factors contributing to rising consumer confidence.
The nationwide daily minimum wage hike adds to consumer purchasing power, while the government remains committed to stimulating the economy through public spending.
The consumer confidence index climbed to 84 points last month from 81.7 points in January. The overall economic index came in at 74.3 points, up from 72.1 points, while the index for job opportunities registered at 75.5 points, up from 72.9 points.
The index on future income increased to 100 points for only the second time on record in February.
A score of less than 100 points indicates consumers are more pessimistic than optimistic about exports, the cost of living, political uncertainty and the global economic outlook. A reading above 100 means they expect improving conditions.
Consumers remain concerned about a strong baht, domestic political stability and the world's economic recovery.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter