Thai Growth Slows as Scope for Monetary Stimulus Seen Limited

Thai Growth Slows as Scope for Monetary Stimulus Seen Limited

Thai economic growth slowed for a second quarter as exports cooled and local demand weakened, with rising household debt restricting the scope for monetary easing.

Gross domestic product increased 2.8 percent in the three months through June from a year earlier, after expanding a revised 5.4 percent in the previous quarter, the National Economic and Social Development Board said in Bangkok today. The median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg survey was 3.3 percent.

Southeast Asian nations from Singapore to Indonesia have seen exports falter as growth slows in China, and Europe and Japan struggle to sustain economic recoveries. The Bank of Thailand will hold the policy interest rate at 2.5 percent at its Aug. 21 meeting, a Bloomberg survey showed, after Assistant Governor Paiboon Kittisrikangwan said last month that household debt at 80 percent of GDP limits the scope for further easing.“High credit growth and rising household debt narrow the prospect for a further lowering of interest rates,” Bernard Aw, a Singapore-based analyst at Forecast Pte, said before the data release. “Status quo on the policy is the best way forward.”

The Thai baht has slipped almost 5 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three months, after reaching its highest level since 1997 in April. The benchmark Stock Exchange of Thailand Index has lost more than 10 percent over the last three months, among the worst performers in Asia.

The central bank cut its 2013 GDP growth forecast to 4.2 percent from 5.1 percent on July 19, citing weaker-than-expected exports. The Commerce Ministry said last month it’s “very difficult” to meet its growth target of as much as 8 percent because of slowing expansions of the nation’s trading partners. Thai shipments grew 0.95 percent in the first six months.

Delayed Spending

The Thai central bank reduced borrowing costs by 25 basis points in May to spur growth. Singapore last week lowered its forecast for exports this year, while Indonesia this month reported second-quarter GDP growth of less than 6 percent for the first time since 2010.

Thai consumer confidence fell to the lowest in seven months in July on rising political unrest and the weakening economic outlook. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra imposed the Internal Security Act for eight days this month to contain protests as the parliament debated an amnesty bill for political protesters.

Toyota Motor Corp. said last month industrywide car sales will fall 9.5 percent this year in Thailand. The government has tried to speed up its budget disbursements as 2 trillion baht ($64 billion) allocated for infrastructure spending and 350 billion baht for water-management projects have been put on hold.

Thailand’s economy shrank a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent last quarter from the three months through March, when it contracted a revised 1.7 percent, the agency said today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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