May 18, 2020 / 9:24 AM / 16 days ago

Thai banks may see strong loan growth, higher bad loans this year - cenbank

BANGKOK, May 18 (Reuters) - Commercial banks in Thailand are expected to post strong loan growth this year, as more large businesses are seeking credit due to the volatile debt market amid the coronavirus outbreak, a senior director at the Bank of Thailand (BOT) said on Monday.

Loans grew 4.1% in the first quarter of this year, compared with 2% in the whole of 2019, Director Tharith Panpiemraas told a briefing. But he did not give a specific forecast.

Non-performing loans (NPLs) are likely to rise further this year, reflecting the slowing economy, he said.

NPLs stood at 3.05% of total lending at the end of March, up from 2.98% at the end of last year, Tharith said.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy contracted 1.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, and 2.2% from the December quarter, as social restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus hit tourism and domestic activity. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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