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10 June 2009

Thai central bank keeps close watch on recovery signs

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The Bank of Thailand will weigh tentative signs of an economic recovery in the past two months at its next policy rate review scheduled for July 15, Reuters quoted deputy bank governor Bandid Nijathaworn as telling reporters Wednesday.

The central bank surprised markets in May by keeping its main interest rate unchanged at 1.25 percent after four cuts in a row since December to shore up an economy in recession. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the worst may be over for Thailand's economy, which he expected to grow 1-2 percent next year after contracting as much as 5 percent in 2009.

Reuters quoted Abhisit as telling investors in Bangkok he still aimed for a return to economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2009 as millions of dollars in government stimulus measures kick in.

Analysts expect the economy to shrink by 3 to 4 percent this year due to a sharp fall in exports and sluggish domestic demand.

"We hope by next year...growth will perhaps be one to two percent," Abhisit told the Euromoney Thailand Investment Forum.

"We are seeing signs that maybe the worst is behind us. There are signs that maybe a recovery is along the way, but we are not complacent. We are still careful and watchful," he said.

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said on Friday he expected to start seeing a recovery from the third quarter, although he still believed the economy would shrink by 4-5 percent in 2009.

The economy contracted a seasonally adjusted 1.9 percent in the first quarter, pushing Thailand into its first recession in a decade, but analysts and officials predicted a pick up in coming quarters. 


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