Low growth, exports weakened in Q3

Thailand's economy grew less than analysts estimated last quarter on weaker exports and lower consumption and investment.

Anti-government demonstrators fill Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok at Democracy Monument stage last week in protest against the amnesty bill. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose 1.3% in the three months through September from the previous quarter, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) said in Bangkok on Monday. The economy expanded 2.7% from a year earlier, it said, compared to a median estimate of 2.9% in a Bloomberg survey of 15 analysts.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has faced the biggest protests under her term as thousands of people opposed a bill that would have provided amnesty for political offenses stretching back to the country's 2006 coup, allowing the return of her exiled brother Thaksin. Consumer confidence in October fell to the lowest level in 20 months on concern that the unrest may turn violent.

"The economy may be out of a technical recession, but it remains fragile," Kampon Adireksombat, a senior economist at Tisco Securities Co in Bangkok, said before the report. "No growth engine has worked properly this year except tourism. If things turn violent and affect that, the fourth-quarter GDP may be disappointing."

The baht is among the worst performers in the last three months of 11 Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The currency will fall to 32 per United States dollar by Dec 31, according to Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, the most accurate forecaster over the last four quarters.

Prolonged unrest now will harm tourism and private investment and could shave 0.5 percentage points from the nation’s GDP in 2014, according to a BNP Paribas SA research note on Nov 4. Thai Airways International Pcl, the country's largest airline, has started to see passengers delaying plans to travel to Thailand, President Sorajak Kasemsuvan said Nov 12.

Demonstrations that have drawn as many as 30,000 people have already hurt tourism and investor confidence, central bank Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said Nov 10. The Bank of Thailand last month held its benchmark interest rate at 2.5% for a third meeting. It is due to meet next on Nov 27.

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