BANGKOK: Thailand’s consumer confidence index rose for the first time in three months to 49.4 points in February after falling for two straight months to a nine-month low at 47.8 points in January, said forecasters at the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce Thursday.
“Consumers are more relieved about the Covid-19 outbreak in the country with vaccination plans,” said Thanavath Phonvichai, the president of the university’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting Unit, report agencies.In November the index jumped from 50.9 to 52.4 points, before dropping back to 50.1 in December, and then shedding another 2.3 points in January. A score of more than 50 indicates overall optimism, while lower scores show a majority of pessimistic views in the survey.
Concerning other indices, the economic sentiment in February stood at 43.4 points, increasing from 41.6 in January, while job opportunity sentiment surged to 46.1 from 45.1 in January and the future income index rose to 58.7 points compared with 56.8 the month earlier.
Thailand’s purchasing power was also bolstered by government’s stimulus measures, especially the cash handout Rao Chana, and by higher prices of agricultural crops, Thanavath said.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said he expected the index to rise further next month as Thais were optimistic towards government measures and vaccinations starting in March.
However, Thanavath suggested that the government be more concrete and clearer on the domestic vaccination plans because international tourism depends on how successful the process will be.
“The economy is likely to recover swiftly if there are at least 4-6 million [international visitors] in the fourth quarter this year,” he said, adding that this was particularly essential to increase employment in the hospitality business and others related to tourism.Siam Commercial Bank has upgraded its projection of the Thai economic growth to 2.6 per cent in 2021 from the previous 2.2 per cent, backed by better-than-expected recovery in the exports market, said Yunyong Thaicharoen, senior executive at the Economic Intelligence Center.
Thai exports have benefited from the global economic recovery, as reflected by export numbers close to pre-Covid-19 levels in December and January, said Yunyong.
Looking forward, he expected the export figure to expand in line with the recovering global economy from the vaccine distribution and incentive measures. SCB adjusted its estimate for Thai exports to grow 6.4 per cent, up from an earlier 4-per-cent estimation.
Thai economy, however, would still be under pressure from the slow recovery in the tourism sector, said SCB. They forecast only 3.7 million foreign tourists in 2021, pointing out that international travel would only recover after most countries enter the stage of herd community.