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Thai March consumer prices fall for 15th straight month

[BANGKOK] Thailand's annual headline consumer prices fell for a 15th consecutive month in March, mainly due to declining oil prices, giving the central bank leeway to cut interest rates if needed to support weak domestic growth.

The index, published by the Commerce Ministry on Friday, dropped 0.46 per cent in March from a year earlier. A Reuters poll forecast a 0.42 per cent fall.

The core inflation rate, which strips out raw food and energy prices, was at 0.75 per cent in March, the same as in the poll.

Consumer prices have also been curbed by state controls and subsidies plus weak consumption amid high household debt.

The Bank of Thailand has left its policy interest rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent since April 2015. The rate was a record low 1.25 per cent during the global financial crisis.

It next reviews policy on May 11. Most analysts expect no change but some forecast a cut due to weak economic growth.


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