The Commerce Ministry said Monday consumer prices based on 450 products and services edged up 0.07 per cent year-on-year last month, with the monthly rate up 0.55% from March.
Somkiat Triratpan, director of the Commerce Ministry’s Office of Trade Policy and Strategy, said prices of meat and fresh vegetables surged in April because of lower supplies caused by widespread drought, while prices in the transport and communication sectors increased after retail fuel prices were adjusted up by 1.79% last month.
Core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, was 0.78% on an annual basis in April and 0.14% on a month-to-month basis.
In the first four months of the year, consumer prices fell by 0.35% year-on-year. Core inflation was 0.70% for the same period.
“With steady core inflation rates in the first four months, we expect inflation from now on is unlikely to be lower than previous months in line with higher oil price prospects,” Mr Somkiat said. “We expect inflation to pick up further in the third and fourth quarters of the year.”
He said the Commerce Ministry is scheduled to revise its inflation policy next month after global oil prices started recovering and with farm prices likely to increase thanks to lower supply caused by the drought.
The ministry has now forecast 2016 inflation in a range of zero to 1% based on expected economic growth of 2.8-3.8%, assuming Dubai crude oil prices of US$30-40 a barrel and foreign exchange of B36-38 to the US dollar.
Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said positive inflation for the first time in 16 months was a good sign of the country’s economic recovery.
But he said it would be wise to watch rates closely in the next two to three months.
“Inflation’s rise is largely because of higher food prices in light of drought conditions and higher oil prices, the government’s economic stimulus measures, active spending thanks to the long holiday during the Songkran festival, the government’s stimulus measures, including a tax deduction of up to B15,000 for dining expenses from April 9-17, and export growth,” Mr Thanavath said.
The Commerce Ministry late last month said exports rose for a second straight month in March.
Shipments edged up 1.3% year-on-year in March in dollar terms to $19.12 billion. In baht terms, shipments surged 10.77% to 676.52 billion baht, boosted by industrial goods such as automobiles, machinery and gold.
Exports of industrial products rose 3.4% year-on-year for the period to $15.37 billion, owing to higher shipments of gems and jewellery, which rose by 43.8%, and gold, which surged by 262.5%.
Shipments of automobiles and parts rose 2.9%, mainly on an 80.8% surge of passenger car exports to Australia, Asean and the Middle East.
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