Thai factory output falls again in Feb but less than forecast

[BANGKOK] Thailand's industrial output contracted again in February from a year earlier, as exports and consumption remained weak, but the shrinkage was less than expected.

The Industry Ministry said on Tuesday its manufacturing production index (MPI) in February dropped 1.62 per cent from a year earlier, smaller than a 2.55 per cent drop projected in a Reuters poll.

In January, output contracted a revised 3.5 per cent on the year.

Industrial goods accounted for 83 per cent of total exports in February, which rose 10.3 per cent from a year earlier due to unusual items - large gold shipments and helicopters brought in earlier for a war exercise.

Excluding those items, exports fell 2 per cent.

February's output fall was led by autos, steel, electronics and clothes.

Capacity utilisation was 65.7 per cent last month, up from January's 63.93 per cent.

With sluggish demand abroad and at home, the junta has struggled to revive Southeast Asia's second-largest economy since seizing power to end months of political unrest in May 2014.

Exports, worth about two-third of the economy, contracted the past three years. The Bank of Thailand has predicted they will fall again in 2016, by 2 per cent.

The central bank last week cut its 2016 economic growth forecast to 3.1 per cent from 3.5 per cent. Growth last year was 2.8 per cent.

REUTERS

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