Thailand: Inflation eases to 13-month low; exports seen down

Thailand’s headline inflation dropped to its lowest rate in 13 months in February and came in below expectations, Commerce Ministry data showed on Tuesday, helped by easing energy and food prices.

The headline consumer price index (CPI) rose 3.79% in February from a year earlier, compared with a forecast rise of 4.18% in a Reuters poll, and against January’s 5.02% increase.

Inflation remains above the Bank of Thailand’s (BoT) target range of 1% to 3%, suggesting the central bank will raise its key interest rate again at its next meeting on March 29 as it attempts to get inflation back within target.

The core consumer price index (CPI), which excludes fresh food and energy prices, rose 1.93% in February from a year earlier, less than a forecast increase of 2.10% in the poll and against January’s 3.04% rise.

The Commerce Ministry is projecting inflation to slow in March and is maintaining its forecast for headline inflation at 2% to 3% this year.

In 2022, headline inflation hit a 24-year high of 6.08%, with the core rate at 2.51%.

– Exports seen down –

Meanwhile, the country’s exports are likely to contract 8% in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier as global demand slows, the Thai National Shippers’ Council said on Tuesday.

That compared with a previous forecast of a fall of 3.7% in exports in January-March from a year earlier.