January 5, 2018 / 8:47 AM / in a year

UPDATE 2-Thai c. bank ready to intervene if baht moves too fast, affects private sector

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BANGKOK, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Thailand’s central bank is prepared to “take care of” the situation if the baht currency changes too fast and affects the private sector, it said on Friday.

The currency is strengthening “quite fast” against the U.S. dollar at the beginning of 2018, Deputy Governor Mathee Supapongse said in a statement.

“If the currency changes so quickly that it affects adaptability of the private sector, the central bank is ready to take care of it,” Mathee said.

He added that the appreciation of the baht was in line with regional currencies and was a result of a weakening dollar, along with inflows of capital into the region.

Later on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters the Thai economy “is improving a lot”.

“Direct investment and investors in capital markets is high,” he said. “This is not only in Thailand. We expect growth momentum to reach Asia, Asian stocks are up and so the baht is strengthening with regional peers.”

The Thai economy depends significantly on exports, which have been under pressure from the baht’s strength.

In 2017, during which exports increased, the baht strengthened more than 9 percent against the dollar.

On Friday, the baht touched its strongest in 39 months, at 32.14 against the dollar.

The central bank has forecast economic growth of 3.9 percent for 2017 and 2018. Growth in 2016 was 3.2 percent. The 2017 growth numbers will be released next month. (Reporting by Satawasin Staporncharnchai and Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Richard Borsuk)

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