BANGKOK – Thailand has registered its 13th straight month of negative inflation in January, mainly due to falling oil prices, according to the latest report from the Commerce Ministry.
The ministry said Monday that the country’s headline consumer price index fell 0.53% from a year earlier and 0.26% from December. Thai CPI fell 0.9% in 2015, with the index languishing in negative territory throughout the year.
The January inflation readings are weaker than the median forecasts for a 0.46% fall from a year earlier and a 0.175% drop from the previous month, according to a Wall Street Journal poll of economists.
“Headline inflation is bottoming out, consistent with our expectations, though subdued energy prices will put a lid on the strength of the inflection,” said Weiwen Ng, an economist at ANZ Research, in an email.
Somkiat Triratpan, director of the ministry’s Trade and Strategy Bureau, said at a news conference that the country’s CPI readings continued to be in negative territory due to falling prices for oil and consumer goods.
In January, core inflation, which removes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.59% year-over-year and 0.07% month-over-month. Thailand’s core CPI climbed 1.05% in 2015.
Looking ahead, most economists expect low oil prices will keep considerable pressure on headline Thai inflation, at least in the near term.
“Inflationary pressure is likely to remain benign as oil prices stabilize around $30/barrel in the next month. Although Chinese New Year could raise prices of raw food, we expect core inflation to remain steady around the current levels,” said Nattariya Wittayatanaseth, an economist from Kasikornbank.
The Commerce Ministry projects headline inflation of 1.0% to 2.0% in 2016.
By Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol – Market Watch