Thai Q4 GDP growth disappoints, full-year 2014 pace at 0.7%

Night view of Bangkok, Thailand. The country's economy grew less than expected in October-December and had full-year 2014 growth of only 0.7 per cent, as exports and consumption remained weak long after a May coup aimed at helping to spur recovery. -
Night view of Bangkok, Thailand. The country's economy grew less than expected in October-December and had full-year 2014 growth of only 0.7 per cent, as exports and consumption remained weak long after a May coup aimed at helping to spur recovery. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's economy grew less than expected in October-December and had full-year 2014 growth of only 0.7 per cent, as exports and consumption remained weak long after a May coup aimed at helping to spur recovery.

The poor performance in 2014 will put more pressure on the military junta to speed up infrastructure spending this year to lift growth in South-east Asia's second-largest economy.

The economy grew 1.7 per cent in final quarter of 2014 on a seasonally adjusted basis from the prior three months, and 2.3 per cent from a year earlier, the state planning agency said on Monday.

Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast quarterly growth of 2.3 per cent in October-December, and an annual pace of 2.4 per cent.

The full-year growth was the weakest since flood-hit 2011. In 2013, there was 2.9 per cent expansion.

Thailand is the last major South-east Asian economy to report 2014 growth, and had by far the weakest. Malaysia last week reported higher-than-expected four-quarter and 2014 growth.

For months prior to the coup, Thailand suffered virtual paralysis in policy-making amid political tensions. The junta has struggled to lift growth as exports remain weak, consumption is still subdued and government spending slow.

The October-December performance was the best for any quarter for last year, but reflects a low base from late 2013, when anti-government protests began. Badly-hit tourism is recovering slowly.

The agency revised economic on-quarter growth in July-September to 1.2 per cent, from 1.1 per cent stated earlier.

The central bank, which has kept its policy interest rate at 2 per cent for nearly a year, next meets on March 11.

The National Economic and Social Development Board on Monday kept unchanged its 2015 growth forecast of 3.5-4.5 per cent. It cut its export growth projection to 3.5 per cent from 4 per cent.