Thai economy expands more than expected in Q1

Customers shopping at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, on Feb 29, 2016.
Customers shopping at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, on Feb 29, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thailand's economy grew more than analysts estimated in the first quarter as the military government's spending helped counter weak local demand and exports.

Gross domestic product expanded 3.2 per cent in the three months through March from a year earlier, the National Economic and Social Development Board said on Monday (May 16). That compares with the 2.8 per cent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 21 analysts. GDP grew 0.9 per cent from the previous three months, compared with 0.6 per cent median estimate.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has issued a series of economic stimulus measures worth more than 400 billion baht (S$15.48 billion) since last year to help shore up local demand. The Bank of Thailand last week left its benchmark interest rate unchanged for an eighth straight meeting to help support the economy.

"Robust growth in the tourism sector and high government budget disbursement should still be the main driver of the Thai economy," said Peerawat Samranchit, an economist at Bangkok-based TMB Bank Pcl, said before the data was released. "Domestic demand remains fragile."