Thai economy gets govt spending boost
BANGKOK: Thailand's economy grew more than analysts estimated in the fourth quarter as the military government's series of stimulus measures started to bear fruit, countering a slowdown in exports. Gross domestic product expanded 2.8 percent in the three months through December from a year earlier, the National Economic and Social Development Board said in Bangkok Monday. That compares with the 2.6 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 22 analysts. GDP climbed 2.8 percent in 2015, more than the median forecast of 2.7 percent in a separate survey. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has accelerated budget spending to help everyone from farmers to small businesses, in an effort to boost local demand amid falling exports. Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said last week monetary policy remains accommodative to assist the recovery. The central bank on Feb. 3 kept its policy interest rate unchanged for a sixth straight meeting. "While fiscal spending should help prop up the economy in 2016, the pace of the recovery will be gradual, given the backdrop of continued political uncertainty and high household debt," Krystal Tan, a Singapore-based economist at Capital Economics, said in a note after the data. "Meanwhile, lacklustre external demand and declining competitiveness will weigh on goods exports." The baht slipped 0.2 percent to 35.67 against the dollar as of 10:43 a.m. in Bangkok.