BANGKOK, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Thai commercial banks' loans, which barely increased in 2016, can still rise 4-6 percent this year and their non-performing loans are expected to peak in the fourth quarter, a senior central bank official said on Friday.
"The main factor is GDP. If the economy grows as expected, NPLs should peak in Q4 before being stable and falling next year," Daranee Saeju, senior director of the central bank's financial institutions strategy department, told reporters.
The Bank of Thailand has forecast Southeast Asia's second-largest economy will expand 3.5 percent this year after 3.2 percent last year.
Banks' NPLs rose slightly to 2.95 percent of total lending at the end of June from 2.94 percent at the end of March, the central bank said.
Banks' loans increased 3.3 percent in the first half of 2017 from a year earlier.
In 2016, loans rose just 2 percent, the smallest increase in seven years. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Richard Borsuk)