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Thailand Q3 GDP annual growth weakest in 7 quarters

Staff Writer |
Thailand's gross domestic product grew by 3.3 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018, following a 4.6 percent expansion in the previous period and far below market consensus of 4.2 percent.

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It was the weakest growth rate since the fourth quarter 2016, as net external demand contributed negatively to growth while government spending, investment, and private consumption continued to rise at a solid pace.

On the expenditure side, government spending went up 2.1 percent, compared with 2 percent in Q2, as purchases of goods and services increased 4.5 percent, consumption of fixed capital and social transfers of kind rose 2.3 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively while compensations of employees fell 0.4 percent.

Gross fixed capital formation advanced 3.9 percent, faster than 3.7 percent in Q2. Public investment rose 4.2 percent, as a result of state enterprise investment (9.9 percent) and private investment grew 3.9 percent, mainly due to a 3.4 percent expansion of investment on machinery.

In addition, spending on private construction expanded 5.4 percent.

Also, private consumption increased 5 percent, compared to a 4.5 percent expansion in the prior quarter, mainly due to higher farm income. Durable spending, in particular spending on personal vehicles as well as semi-durable goods.

Meantime, non-durable goods spending slowed down namely alcoholic beverages, tobacco and consumption on electricity by household.

Meanwhile, net external contributed negatively to GDP growth, as exports of goods and services edged down 0.1 percent (vs 6.8 percent in Q2) while imports of goods and services went up 10.7 percent (vs 8.3 percent in Q2).

On the production side, agriculture increased 4.3 percent, slowing from a 10.2 percent growth in the June quarter, due to a rise in agriculture, hunting and forestry (5 percent vs 11.4 percent in Q2) while fishing continued to drop (-3 percent vs -2.8 percent).

Meanwhile, the non-agricultural sector expanded 3.3 percent, easing from 4.1 percent expansion in the previous three-month period.

Output grew mainly for: manufacturing (1.6. percent vs 3.2 percent in Q2); wholesale and retail trade (7.2 percent vs 7.3 percent); transport, storage and communication (6.2 percent vs 6.8 percent); real estate, renting and business activities (4.8 percent vs 3.5 percent); financial intermediation (3 percent vs 4.6 percent); hotels and restaurants (6.5 percent vs 9.4 percent in Q2); electricity, gas and water supply (1.5 percent vs 1.8 percent); construction (4.7 percent vs 2.0 percent); health and social work (1.6 percent vs 4.3 percent); and other community, social and personal services (7.5 percent vs 4.3 percent).

On the other hand, a contraction was seen in mining and quarrying (-2.7 percent vs 0.9 percent); public administration and defence (-1.0 percent vs -0.9 percent), and education (-1 percent after showing no growth in Q2).

On a quarterly basis, the GDP stalled in the three months to September, following a downwardly revised 0.9 percent growth in the previous period and missing market consensus of a 0.6 percent expansion.

It was the weakest quarterly reading since a contraction in the first quarter 2014.

Considering the first three quarters of the year, the economy expanded by 4.3 percent year-on-year, compared to a 4.0 percent expansion in the same period of 2017.

For 2018, the NESDB revises its economic growth forecast to 4.2 percent from 4.2-4.7 percent, with exports seen up 7.2 percent, 4.7 percent of private consumption and 3.6 percent of total investment.

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