BoT: Economy improves, but still patchy; April factory output up 3.99%

BoT: Economy improves, but still patchy; April factory output up 3.99%

Workers work at an STS Consumer Product factory in Bangkok, Thailand, March 28, 2016. (Reuters file photo)
Workers work at an STS Consumer Product factory in Bangkok, Thailand, March 28, 2016. (Reuters file photo)

Thailand's economy is expected to grow faster than previously projected due to strong exports, but domestic demand was not yet "broad-based" and monetary policy has to remain accommodative, minutes of the central bank's last policy meeting showed on Wednesday.

On May 16, the committee voted 6-0 to leave the Bank of Thailand's (BoT) one-day repurchase rate unchanged at 1.50%, where it has been since April 2015.

One panel member, Deputy Governor Paiboon Kittisrikangwan, did not attend the meeting.

"The committee viewed that growth development still warranted monitoring for some period. Accommodative monetary policy thus remained necessary to support more broad-based and stronger domestic demand," the minutes said.

Private consumption expanded, but purchasing power had yet to fully extend to all economic sectors, they said.

Higher farm income was a result of a lower base of comparison in previous periods, while earnings of low-income households remained fragile, they said.

Accommodative monetary policy should also help headline inflation rise to the central bank's 1-4% target in a sustainable manner.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy continues to gain traction and would grow at a higher rate than previous projected, driven by exports, tourism, and a gradual improvement in domestic demand, the minutes said.

In January-March, the economy grew at its fastest pace in five years, up 2.0% on the quarter and 4.8% on the year.

In March, the BoT raised its 2018 growth forecast to 4.1% from 3.9%. It will review that at its next policy meeting on June 20.

Most analysts predict no policy change throughout 2018, though some predict rate hikes in the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, Thailand's annual industrial output rose 3.99% in April from a year earlier, roughly in line with forecasts, boosted by higher production of cars and car engines, sugar, petroleum and plastic pellets, the industry ministry said on Wednesday.

The median forecast in a Reuters poll was for a 3.94% growth in April.

In March, the manufacturing production index (MPI) rose 3.17% from a year earlier, revised up from 2.62%, the ministry said in a statement.

At factories, capacity utilisation fell to 61.58% in April from a revised 76.30% in March.

Video: State-run NBT World paints a rosy picture

 (Video YouTube/NBT World)


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