February 26, 2018 / 5:58 AM / in 4 months

Thai February inflation to remain tepid, January factory output to pick up: Reuters poll

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s headline inflation is expected to have remained sluggish in February and still below the central bank’s target, though January factory output may have expanded at a slightly faster pace, a Reuters poll showed.

FILE PHOTO: Golden baskets and shopping carts are seen inside the Gourmet Market supermarket in Bangkok, Thailand May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

The median forecast of 10 economists was for the headline consumer price index (CPI) to increase 0.69 percent in February from a year earlier, steady from January’s 0.68 percent rise.

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) predicts headline inflation of 1.1 percent this year and expects consumer prices to return to its 1-4 percent target range in the second quarter of the year.

The BOT has kept its policy interest rate THCBIR=ECI steady at 1.50 percent, near record lows, since April 2015.

It will next review policy on March 28. Most analysts expect no change for the rest of 2018, though some predict a rate increase in the second half of this year.

The core inflation rate, which strips out energy and fresh food prices, was seen at 0.60 percent in February, also little changed from January’s 0.58 percent, the poll showed.

Thailand’s manufacturing production index (MPI) in January may have increased 3.0 percent from a year earlier after rising 2.35 percent in the previous month.

Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Chinthathip Nanthavong; Editing by Kim Coghill

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