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Thailand keeps key rate steady at a decade high as growth ebbs

Tan KW
Publish date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 04:06 PM
Tan KW
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Thailand kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged for the first time in 17 months as policymakers assess the impact of past hikes amid faltering economic growth and falling prices.

The Bank of Thailand’s (BOT) Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to maintain the one-day repurchase rate steady at 2.5% on Wednesday. The decision to keep borrowing costs at the highest in 10 years was predicted by all 22 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

The pause follows signals from the BOT that its eight straight quarter-point increases since August 2022 have lifted the rate to a level appropriate to support economic growth and check inflation.

Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput on Tuesday said the third quarter economic output was “disappointing”, with the worries exacerbated by consumer prices tipping into deflation last month - a sign of flagging demand. Still, Sethaput has dismissed the negative price print as an outcome of state subsidies.

While many in Southeast Asia have shifted to a rate pause, policymakers may have to contend with exchange rate volatility fanned by higher interest rates in advanced economies.

The baht, known for being more volatile than its Southeast Asian neighbours, has seen the swings increase to a range of 8%-9% from about 3%-4% before the pandemic, the governor said.

 


  - Bloomberg

 

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