BANGKOK (Reuters) -Thai consumer confidence dropped in January for the first time in five months, hurt by a spike in coronavius cases, a slow economic recovery and high prices of goods, a survey showed on Thursday.
The consumer index of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce fell 3% on a monthly basis to 44.8 in January.
Consumer spending is likely to remain sluggish in the first quarter, with political uncertainty adding to concerns, the university said, following signs of discord growing https://reut.rs/3BcTLjF in the coalition government https://reut.rs/3HILh6b.
Spending on Valentine’s Day for instance is set to drop to a 15-year low of 2 billion baht ($61.12 million), university president Thanavath Phonvichai told a briefing.
“Goods are expensive, the outbreak is still there, and political stability is not that good,” he said.
But he added the economy could still grow by 3.5% to 4.0% this year on expectations that coronavirus infections will ease by March and high goods prices will be temporary.
Inflation, which hit a nine-month high of 3.23% in January, has yet to impact the country’s economic outlook and there is no pressure on the central bank to rush to raise rates, he added.
On Wednesday, the central bank kept its key interest rate at a record low of 0.50% again and ruled out an immediate need to adjust policy.
($1 = 32.7200 baht)
(Reporting by Satawasin Staporncharnchai and Kitiphong Thaichareon Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)