March 21, 2018 / 4:13 AM / 4 months ago

Thai February exports rise 10.3 pct y/y, beat forecast

    BANGKOK, March 21 (Reuters) - Thailand's customs-cleared
annual exports rose at a slower pace in February compared with
the previous month, pulled down by lower demand during Lunar New
Year holidays, but growth was slightly above expectations.
    Exports, a key driver of Thailand's growth, rose 10.3
percent in February from a year earlier after jumping 17.6
percent in January, commerce ministry data showed on Wednesday.
    That exceeded the median forecast of a 9.2 percent rise from
economists polled by Reuters.
    The export gains were led by cars, computers and parts,
plastics and chemicals.
    Imports in February rose 16 percent from a year earlier
after surging 24.3 percent in January, and compared with a
forecast of a 15.35 percent rise.
    That resulted in a trade surplus of $808 million in
February, in line with a forecast of a $800 million surplus, and
compared with a deficit of $119 million in January.
    "The baht's strength started to impact exports of
agricultural goods and foods," Pimchanok Vonkhorporn, a commerce
ministry official, said at a briefing. 
    The baht has risen 4.4 percent against the dollar so far
this year, hovering over four-year highs against the greenback. 
    The ministry still targets export growth of 8 percent this
year, Pimchanok said.
    In 2017, exports jumped 9.9 percent despite the baht
appreciating 9 percent against the dollar.
 (Percentage change from a year earlier, in dollar terms;
figures may not add up exactly due to rounding):
                                Feb      Jan      Dec      Nov
 Exports (pct y/y)             10.3     17.6      8.6     13.4
 ($US bln)                    20.37    20.10    19.74    21.43
 Imports (pct y/y)             16.0     24.3     16.6     13.7
 ($US bln)                    19.56    20.22    20.02    19.67
 Trade balance ($US bln)      +0.81    -0.12    -0.28     1.76
 ($1 = 31.21 baht)

 (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon
Writing by Orathai Sriring
Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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