The Bank of Thailand on Friday said it was ready to intervene to counteract sudden, further depreciation of the baht against the U.S. dollar, which hit a 16-year-low this week.
One of Asia’s worst-performing currencies this year, the baht hit 37 to the dollar on Friday, the weakest since December 2006. It has fallen about 10% against the greenback this year.
“The BoT is closely monitoring the movement of the baht and is ready to take action when the baht moves in an unusually volatile way in order not to affect the adjustment of the real economy,” Assistant Governor Alisara Mahasandana said in a statement.
Pattaya Deputy Mayor Thitiphan Phettrakul is ready to take advantage of the weaker baht, which gives tourists from dollar-based economies more spending power.
It’s notable, however, that while the baht has plunged against the dollar, it has not seen the same appreciation against the British pound or euro. On Saturday, the pound fetched 42 baht and 37 euros. That’s only a one-baht difference from 10 days ago.
The baht’s volatility against the dollar is due mainly to external factors, including expectations of more aggressive U.S interest rises and deteriorating risk sentiment in emerging Asian markets after China’s yuan had fallen below seven a dollar, the central bank statement said.
There’s also a specific factor for Thailand due to falling gold prices, resulting in more dollar buying by gold companies.
Poon Panichpibool, a market strategist at KTB-Krung Thai Bank, said if gold prices rebound, the baht will stabilize.