• Thai economy unlikely to grow 4% this year as the export sector has been hit by the slowing global economy in the past 12 months, says Finance Minister Sommai Phasee. (IQ Biz, 27/03/15)
  • The Commerce Ministry reported yesterday exports fell for a second consecutive month in February, down by 6.14% year on-year to $17.2 billion largely due to lower global oil and farm product prices. However, imports edged up 1.47% year on-year in February to $16.8 billion, leading to a trade surplus of $390 million compared with a $457-million deficit in January. For the first two months, Thai exports totaled $34.5 billion, down by 4.82% year-on-year, with imports down 6.69% to $34.5 billion. (Bangkok Post, 27/3/15)
  • Inheritance tax gets sliced to 5% – Finance Minister Sommai Phasee has proposed halving the inheritance tax rate to 5% for donors’ offspring in return for keeping a levy on bequests worth over 50 million baht. The move is aimed at passing the long-awaited tax. He disagreed with raising the value of taxable assets to more than 100 million baht as requested by a National Legislative Assembly (NLA) committee but will halve the inheritance tax at 5% as a compromise. (Bangkok Post, 26/3/15)

  • Thai exports to shrink 6.1% in February – General Chatchai Sarikulya, the minister of commerce, revealed that Thai exports dropped 6.1% year-on-year in February, resulting in 4.8% drop year-on-year in the first two months. The official number will be released today. (Post Today, 26/3/15)
  • Industrial sentiment down – The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) yesterday reported that the Thai Industries Sentiment Index (TISI) had dropped for a second consecutive month. The sentiment of industrial operators – and of small and medium sized enterprises in particular – has apparently fallen because of the slowdown in domestic consumption brought on by people’s reluctance to spend and weak purchasing power. The TISI declined from 92.7 points in December to 91.1 points in January, followed by a further fall to 88.9 points last month, with 100 being the base point. (The Nation, 25/3/15)
  • ADB joins parade of downward revisions – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the latest agency to lower Thailand’s 2015 economic growth forecast, adding to worries that the country’s economy will remain in the doldrums. The Manila-based bank yesterday trimmed its GDP growth projection to 3.6% this year from a previous 3.9% due largely to slower-than-expected export growth. The ADB lowered its export growth forecast for Thailand to 1-2% this year from 3-4% in response to the fragile global recovery. (Bangkok Post, 25/3/15)
  • Data centre plan takes shape – A national data centre will be created within the next 12 months at a cost of 30-40 billion baht, says Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula. All state agencies must freeze development of their existing 112 data centres nationwide as the government prepares to integrate all existing data-centre facilities into a unified database architecture to serve the digital economy policy. The resolution came after last Wednesday’s initial meeting of the digital economy committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, MR Pridiyathorn said. (Bangkok Post, 24/4/15)
  • Pattaya-Map Ta Phut motorway put in priority – The transport ministry said it plans to invest Bt109trn to develop infrastructure in the eastern seaboard in 2015-2016. The most urgent project is the construction of a 32km Pattaya-Map Ta Phut motorway, which will cost 20.2 billion baht. (Daily News, 24/3/15)
  • Buildings will be included in new tax – Finance Minister Sommai Phasee still insists tax will be collected on both land and buildings, saying the tax burden has been eased significantly by the most recent rate proposals. The land and buildings tax will not be a land tax alone, he said yesterday. Mr Sommai’s comments came after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last week instructed the Finance Ministry to study the possibility of imposing tax only on land to alleviate homeowners’ tax burden. (Bangkok Post, 24/4/15)
  • SEPO told to increase SOE revenue – Finance Minister Sommai Phasee told SEPO increase SOE income after tax revenue in the first five months of FY2015 came to just Bt12.2bn or 1.5% short of target. (Bangkok Biz, 24/3/15)
  • Ministry of Finance to ask listed state enterprises PTT, AOT and KTB for more dividends after government revenues fell below target. In FY2015, 20% of the government budget, or Bt490bn, will be invested into transportation infrastructure. (Kao Hoon, 24/03/15)
  • Sluggish economy forces Prayut to keep VAT at 7% – The government has decided to delay its plan to raise the value-added tax (VAT) rate, which is now at 7%, until the country enjoys an economic recovery, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says. While the standard VAT rate in Thailand is 10%, the reduced rate of 7% has been used since the tax was imposed 23 years ago through a series of reduction extensions, the latest of which expires on Sept 30 this year. Gen Prayut yesterday said he will not consider hiking VAT for the foreseeable future. (Bangkok Post, 21/3/15)
  • BoT cuts growth view to 3.8% – The Bank of Thailand yesterday lowered its 2015 economic growth forecast to 3.8% from 4%. It cited possible delays in government spending, weakening consumer and investor confidence and the slower-than expected global recovery. But economic stagnation is absent, as the economy is projected to expand on a quarterly basis during the next two years, whereas stagnation would occur when inflation is high and the economy contracts simultaneously, said Mathee Supapongse, assistant governor in charge of the monetary policy group and secretary of the Monetary Policy Committee. (Bangkok Post, 21/3/15)
  • MoC eyes neighbors to boost exports – The Commerce ministry is now attempting to boost exports to neighboring countries after slow economic recovering in major markets. While the BoT said the slowing Chinese economy is one of the main factor causing the central bank to cut the export target to 0.8%. (Bangkok Biz, 23/3/15)
  • THB appreciates 4.4% from August last year – The BoT reports that the slowing global economy has pushed the real value of baht to appreciate 4.4% from August last year. (Post Today, 23/3/15)


  • U.S. initial jobless claims fall to five-week low – The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid last week decreased to a five-week low, echoing an improving job market. In the week ending March 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits fell to 282,000, 9,000 less than the revised level of the previous week, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday. The data was better than the average market expectation of 290,000. (Xinhua, 26/3/15)
  • U.S. March services sector activity index rises to highest since Sept – The U.S. services sector expanded in March at its fastest pace since September, an industry report showed on Thursday. Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary, or “flash,” reading of its Purchasing Managers Index for the service sector rose to 58.6 in March from a final reading of 57.1 in February. (Reuters, 26/3/15)
  • Greece gets extra $1.1bn funding from ECB, has to prove trust – The European Central Bank has increased the emergency funds available to Greek lenders by $1.1 billion, in an attempt to keep Greece in the eurozone. But, euroarea officials have told Greece they have zero trust in its ability to deliver effective policy. (Reuters, 26/3/15)
  • Greek Bank Deposits Plunge to 10-Year Low – Greek bank deposits plunged to a 10-year low in February as some €8 billion ($8.7 billion) were withdrawn from lenders, amid rising political uncertainty and worries over the country’s possible exit from the eurozone. Total deposits fell to €152.4 billion euros in February, down from €160.3 billion in January, data from the country’s central bank showed Thursday. This is the lowest level since June 2005. (WSJ, 26/3/15)
  • Draghi Expects QE to Reach EUR60 Billion by End-March – ECB President Mario Draghi said Thursday that the bank expects its bond buying program to reach 60 billion euros ($65.83 billion) by the end of March, despite having started only on March 9. (Nasdaq, 26/3/15)
  • China’s software industry revenue up 15.8 pct on year in Jan.- Feb. – China’s software and IT service industry registered software business revenue of 546.9 billion yuan in the first two months of 2015, up 15.8 percent year on year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced on Wednesday evening. (Xinhua, 26/3/15)
  • U.S. durable goods orders down in February – New orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods declined in February after rising in the previous month, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Orders for durable goods dropped 1.4 percent in February from January to 231.3 billion dollars, following a 2 percent increase in January. The orders were down in three of the previous four months. Orders for transportation equipment saw the biggest drop. The orders for transportation fell 3.5 percent to 69.5 billion dollars. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, new orders for manufactured durable goods fell 0.4 percent in February. (Xinhua, 25/3/15)
  • Professional investors bullish on the market – In the most recent Investors Intelligence survey, the percentage of those bullish actually increased to 56.6 percent from 52 percent in the previous week’s sampling period. That contrasted against just 14.1 percent on the bearish side, a number that has remained pretty constant over the past four weeks. Investor Intelligence takes the temperature of newsletter authors and is thus considered a gauge of professionals. (CNBC, 25/3/15)
  • Only disappointing data will keep Fed from appointment with higher rates: Lockhart – A rate hike is “quite likely” by September, said Dennis Lockhart, the president of the Atlanta Fed, in an interview with the New York Times published on Tuesday. In the interview, Lockhart said the only way the Fed would not have moved by September was if “we were really disappointed in the stream of data that come in.” (Marketwatch, 25/3/15)
  • Ifo Business Climate Index rises for fifth consecutive month in March – The Ifo Business Climate Index for industry and trade in Germany rose for the fifth consecutive month from 106.8 points in February to 107.9 points in March, the highest level since July 2014, the Ifo institute reported on Wednesday. (Xinhua, 25/3/15)
  • China vows scaled-back coal industry – The National Energy Administration (NEA) vowed on Wednesday to continue scaling back the coal industry in a drive to encourage use of renewable energy. Coal consumption accounts for about 66 percent of China’s primary energy consumption, 35 percentage points higher than the world average, according to the NEA. The government plans to slash coal consumption by 160 million tonnes in the next five years, and to reduce energy intensity, or units of energy per unit of GDP, by 3.1 percent in 2015. (Xinhua, 25/3/15)
  • U.S. Fed expects to hike rate before end of this year – The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rate before the end of this year, but the path for the rate hike will not be smooth, as the economy will encounter shocks, Stanley Fischer, vice chairman of the Fed, said at a forum in New York on Monday. (Xinhua, 24/3/15)
  • U.S. consumer prices rise for first time in four months – U.S. consumer price index (CPI) increased for the first time in four months in February, official data showed Tuesday, potentially encouraging the Federal Reserve to move closer to its first interest-rate hike in nearly a decade. The CPI increased 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, and over the last 12 months, the index was unchanged before seasonal adjustment, according to the latest data from the Labor Department. (Xinhua, 25/3/15)
  • U.S. New Home Sales Reach Highest Level in Seven Years – New-home sales rose to the highest level in seven years in February, a sign of strong demand that could help boost the broader U.S. housing market. Sales of newly built single-family homes increased 7.8% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That is the highest level since February 2008. (WSJ, 24/3/15)
  • U.S. manufacturing PMI rises to 5-month high in March – U.S. manufacturing activity in March expanded at the fastest rate in five months, easing concerns over the strength of the economy, preliminary data showed on Tuesday. In a report, market research group Markit said that its preliminary U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index inched up to a seasonally adjusted 55.3 this month from a final reading of 55.1 in February. (Nasdaq, 24/3/15)
  • Americans’ inflation-adjusted wages declined in February – Real average hourly earnings fell 0.1% from January, as the rise in overall prices offset a 0.1% increase in average hourly pay. Weekly real earnings fell 0.1%, reflecting the decline in inflation-adjusted hourly pay and no increase in workers’ hours. (WSJ, 24/3/15)
  • Eurozone composite PMI hits three-year high – The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index – a gauge that takes surveys of executives and turns it into a numerical measure of confidence and future expectations – rose from 51 in February to 51.9 this month, beating forecasts for a 51.5 reading. The services PMI climbed from 53.7 last month to 54.3 in March, also beating predictions of a 53.9 reading. Put together, the composite eurozone PMI rose to 54.1 – the highest since at least early 2012 according to Bloomberg data. (Financial Times, 24/3/15)
  • British inflation rate falls to zero in Feb – Britain’s consumer prices index (CPI) grew by zero percent in the year to February 2015, down from the 0.3 percent in January, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The main contribution to the slowdown in the rate came from price movements for a range of recreational goods, food and furniture and furnishings, and there were no large upward effects to offset the change, said ONS. In the year to February 2015, food prices fell by 3.4 percent and prices of motor fuels slumped by 16.6 percent, figures showed. The food and motor fuels groups in total reduced the CPI 12-month rate by around 0.9 percentage points, said ONS. (Xinhua, 24/3/15)
  • New Signs of Slowdown in China’s Manufacturing Sector – The preliminary HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.2 in March, compared with a final reading of 50.7 in February, said lender HSBC Holdings PLC and financial data provider Markit on Tuesday. March’s reading slipped below the key 50 level that separates expansion from contraction compared with the previous month. The last time the index was below 50 was in January this year, when it fell to 49.7. (WSJ, 24/3/15)
  • Japan March flash manufacturing PMI falls to 50.4, domestic orders weak – Japanese manufacturing activity expanded in March at a much slower pace than the previous month as domestic orders contracted in a worrying sign that the recovering economy may be losing some momentum. The Markit/JMMA flash Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell to a seasonally adjusted 50.4 in March from a final 51.6 in February. (Reuters, 23/3/15)
  • U.S. existing-home sales rose 1.2 percent from 4.82 million in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in February, missing market consensus of 4.94 million, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday. (Xinhua, 24/3/15)
  • Chicago Fed National Activity Index Dips – The Chicago Fed National Activity Index dipped to -0.11 in February from -0.10 in January. Any reading below zero indicates growth below historic trends. The three-month moving average, designed to smooth out month-to-month volatility, swooned to -0.08 from +0.26. (Nasdaq, 23/3/15)
    Eurozone flash consumer confidence up sharply in March – A flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator in March increased sharply in both the EU (by 2.6 points to minus 1.8) and the euro area (by 3.0 points to minus 3.7) compared to February, according to figures issued Monday by the European Commission. (Xinhua, 23/3/15)
  • ECB will not create new rules for Greece, implying no additional aid – European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Monday that the lending institutions would not create rules for Greece, suggesting that all sides follow existing rules and that no additional aid go to address liquidity difficulty in Greece. (Xinhua, 23/3/15)
  • China’s Q1 GDP growth estimated at 6.85 pct, state think-tank – China’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow around 6.85 percent on a yearly basis in the first quarter of this year, according to a quarterly report published by China’s top government think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Sunday. (Xinhua, 23/3/15)
  • Fed handed record $96.9 bln profit to government last year – The Federal Reserve handed $96.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury last year, audited financial statements showed on Friday, a record payday for the U.S. government thanks to interest on the central bank’s massive stable of assets. (Reuters, 20/3/15)
  • EU current account surplus stands at 15.8 bln euros in January – The 28-nation European Union (EU) seasonally adjusted external current account surplus recorded a surplus of 15.8 billion euros (17 billion U.S. dollars) in January, up from 13.1 billion euros in the previous month, the EU statistical office Eurostat said on Friday. The adjusted data also showed the surplus of the current account rose on a year-on-year basis from 6.4 billion euros in January 2014. (Xinhua, 20/3/15)
  • March ‘tankan’ likely to show uptick in business sentiment – The Bank of Japan’s quarterly tankan survey for March is expected to show that business sentiment has climbed among major manufacturers following a drop three months ago, 17 private think tanks said. The headline diffusion index describing large manufacturers’ current business conditions is likely to come in at 14, up from 12 in the December tankan, according to their average forecast, released Friday. (The Japan Times, 20/3/15)

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