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Thai Q4 GDP growth seen cooling slightly as exports slump

[BANGKOK] Thailand's economic growth is expected to have cooled slightly in October-December from the previous three months as export declines deepened and tourism slowed, offsetting some of the boost from higher government spending, a Reuters poll showed.

The military seized power in May 2014 to end months of political unrest but has struggled to turn around Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.

In a bid to lift activity, it has introduced stimulus measures and ramped up infrastructure projects.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by a seasonally adjusted 0.9 per cent in the fourth quarter from the third quarter, when it expanded 1.0 per cent, the poll showed.

On an annual basis, growth was forecast at 2.7 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, lower than 2.9 per cent in July-September.

That would leave full-year 2015 growth at 2.8 per cent, up from a three-year low of 0.9 per cent in 2014, but economists say the recovery remains fragile.

Exports are unlikely to improve much after three straight years of contraction, especially in the face of China's slowdown, while high household debt levels are restraining domestic consumption. That puts the onus on government spending and infrastructure projects as the key growth drivers.

In 2016, growth is expected to quicken to 3.2 per cent, the poll showed.