Central bank chief: Thailand’s growth likely over 4.9% this year


BANGKOK, Feb 26 – Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP), reported at 6.4 per cent last year, was higher than projected, contributing to a positive outlook this year, Bank of Thailand (BoT) Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said today.

Speaking at the SCB Investment Symposium Thailand Outlook 2013, the BoT chief said it is forecast that Thailand’s economy will expand more than 4.9 per cent this year.

The BoT’s Monetary Policy Committee will discuss the latest figure when it meets April 3 when the 2013 GDP may be adjusted upward from the previous forecast of 4.9 per cent, he said.

He said this year’s core inflation will be at 1.7 per cent and it is projected that the headline inflation in the next 12 months will likely be within the range of 3-4 per cent.

Inflation may rise in the short term due to higher oil prices at US$112 per barrel for Dubai crude oil, he said.

Thailand’s baht currency, which sharply appreciated last month, stabilised this month, he said, warning of continued exchange rate fluctuations.

US$2 billion in foreign capital flowed into Thailand last month to invest in short-term bonds while foreign investors gradually switched to long-term bonds this month, he said.

He said foreign capital which moved into the property sector has contributed to a sharp increase in real estate value, 15-16 per cent higher in the fourth quarter of last year, compared to the preceding quarter.

The Thai stock market last month was also unusually active with the SET index shooting up to 1,500 points with price to earnings ratio 18-19 times higher, he said.

Charamporn Jotikasthira, Stock Exchange of Thailand president, said 70 of the 120 stocks are at risk of bubble given their PE ratios being 40 times higher.

He urged investors in the Thai bourse to be more cautious and choose to invest in stocks with sound fundamentals.

Thailand’s SET index rose by 35.8 per cent last year, the highest in Asia, with an increased market capitalisation at Bt600 billion, he said.