Thai consumer confidence slipped for a fifth straight month in May, a university survey showed on Thursday, as low commodity prices and worries over the faltering economy hurt consumption.
The consumer confidence index of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce fell to 75.6 in May from 76.6 in April.
The May reading was the lowest since June last year, when confidence was rising after a military coup ended months of political unrest that brought the economy to the brink of recession.
The confidence indexes fell across the board in May, which was more worrying and showed that consumers sensed no improvement in the economy over the past year, Thanavath Phonvichai, an economics professor at the university, told a briefing.
"People don't feel that the economy will be on an uptrend over the next 3-6 months, so they are still cautious about spending." he said.
One year after the coup, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy is still struggling, as its growth engines of exports and domestic demand are weak. The economy grew only 0.9 percent last year.
Thanavath said that as consumption will still not be a key driver of growth in July-September, the government needs to speed up investment.
REDUCED SPENDING POWER
Exports, equal to more than 60 percent of gross domestic product, have been hurt by tepid global demand and low commodity prices, which have also reduced farmers' spending power.
Private consumption, which accounts for half of the economy, has been curbed by high household debt, at nearly 80 percent GDP at the end of 2014
Last month, the state planning agency cut its 2015 GDP growth forecast by half a point to 3.0-4.0 percent, driven by public spending, although that has been slow off the mark so far.
The Bank of Thailand's monetary policy committee unexpectedly cut the benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 1.50 percent in April, the second consecutive cut, to try to spur growth.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said the country had no need for further rate cuts as two recent ones were sufficient.
Following the cuts, the baht has weakened.
The committee next meets on June 10. Most analysts expect no policy change. Thanavath of the university recommended another rate cut to weaken the baht to 34 to the dollar to aid exports.
Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Richard Borsuk
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