June 30, 2020 / 9:46 AM / 9 days ago

UPDATE 1-Thai economy seen hitting bottom in Q2 - central bank

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BANGKOK, June 30 (Reuters) - Thailand’s economy is expected to hit its bottom in the second quarter, contracting by a double-digit number but less than 20% from a year earlier, amid the coronavirus outbreak, the central bank said on Tuesday.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy continued to suffer a substantial contraction in May due to a sharp drop in exports and tourism, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) said in a statement.

Exports, a key driver of growth, dropped 23.6% in May from a year earlier, after April’s 3.3% decline. The country had no foreign tourists in April and May after it closed borders.

However, private consumption indicators fell at a lower rate following the relaxation of the lockdown measures, and government relief measures. Public spending continued to expand, the BOT said.

“There was some light in May,” BOT senior director Don Nakornthab told a briefing, adding the economy should see its deepest contraction in the current quarter before showing smaller declines in the third and fourth quarters.

Recent strength in the baht is negative for the economy and the BOT will keep monitoring, he said, adding gold exports had added to upward pressure on the currency.

The central bank forecast the economy would shrink 8.1% this year, the biggest contraction on record. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon Writing by Orathai Sriring Editing by Ed Davies)

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