Thai economy set to lose $10 billion as Covid returns 

Consumer confidence has slumped with the return of the virus sparking fears for Thailand’s economy and jobs situation – meanwhile the Thai stock exchange has revealed plans to add $16 billion in market capitalisation in 2021 

by Sean OMeara
Thai economy set to lose $10 billion as Covid returns 
The country’s consumer confidence index dropped for the first time in three months to in December. File photo: Reuters.

Thailand's economy could lose as much as 300 billion baht ($10 billion) in the first quarter after its largest coronavirus outbreak saw consumer mood sink to a five-month low in December.

The country’s consumer confidence index dropped for the first time in three months to 50.1 in December when the new spread of the virus was detected – from 52.4 in November, as consumers feared a surge in inflections would hit the economy and jobs, a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce revealed on Thursday.

"If the situation does not improve in January, consumer confidence could drop to a record low over the next two months," university president Thanavath Phonvichai said.

The index hit a record low of 39.2 last April during the peak of the first coronavirus wave.

Schools, entertainment venues closed

The impact of the new outbreak on the economy is expected to be 200 billion to 300 billion baht in the first quarter, Thanavath said.

New virus restrictions, including closures of entertainment venues and schools in the capital Bangkok and other provinces, could hamper Thailand's fledgling economic recovery, analysts say.

"It's likely that the economy will contract in the first quarter, by 4% if there is a soft lockdown but by 11.3% if it is a hard lockdown," Thanavath said.

The university now predicts the economy will grow 2.2% this year versus 2.8% earlier, he said, adding the government would need at least 200 billion baht to shore up the economy.

On Thursday, Thailand confirmed 305 new infections and one new death, bringing its total to 9,636 cases and 67 fatalities since it first found the virus early last year.

Market capitalisation

The news came as the Stock Exchange of Thailand said it was seeking to boost its market capitalisation this year by 500 billion baht ($16.61 billion) through initial public offerings (IPOs) and secondary listings. 

Last year, the market capitalisation of IPOs in Thailand was 555 billion baht, the exchange said on Friday. 

That was driven by the country's largest listings, Central Retail Corporation Pcl and SCG Packaging Pcl, each raising over $1 billion. 

"The target for new listings is high, similar to the last two years," said the head of the exchange's Issuer and Listing Division, Manpong Senanarong.

The index also hopes to attract foreign listings from neighbouring countries and support fundraising for small businesses and start-ups, he said. 

The total market capitalisation of the Thai index is currently 16.62 trillion baht ($551.79 billion) according to Refinitiv data. 

State-owned energy firm PTT Pcl plans to launch a $1.5 billion to $2 billion IPO of its retail and oil arm in 2021, Refinitiv IFR reported.

  • Reuters

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