Consumer mood dips for first time in 7 months - survey

Consumer mood dips for first time in 7 months - survey

Thailand's consumer sentiment dropped for the first time in seven months in February as shoppers were worried about the political situation, low commodity prices and the baht's strength, a private survey showed on Thursday.

The index of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce fell to 79.3 in February from 80.0 in January.

Some consumers thought an increase in minimum wages could slow economic growth, the university said in a statement.

It said with higher costs, firms might seek to replace workers with technologies, resulting in job losses. The university said that if there was a more broad-based economic recovery in the second quarter and consumers have more confidence in the political situation, spending could improve in the second half.

Private consumption accounts for half of the economy, but has been restrained by household debt, which is about 80% of gross domestic product. However, strong exports and tourism helped lift growth in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy to 3.9%, the fastest pace in five years, from 3.3% in 2016.

This year, the state planning agency predicts growth in a range of 3.6-4.6%. The army seized power in 2014 to end political unrest. Junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha said late week an election would take place no later than February 2019.

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