Thai factory output unexpectedly falls in May as car output down

Thailand’s manufacturing production index unexpectedly fell 1.54% in May from a year earlier due to lower car production and higher energy costs, the industry ministry said on Friday.

The figure compared with a forecast increase of 1.35% in May in a Reuters poll, and followed a downwardly revised annual rise of 2.69% in April, which was the first increase in 19 months.

Factory output for the January-May period dropped 2.08% from a year earlier. The ministry last month said it expected output to rise between 0% and 1% in 2024.

Car production dropped for a 10th straight month in May as purchasing power decreased because of high household debt, while energy costs increased, the ministry said in a statement.

Figures from the Federation of Thai Industries earlier this week showed car production fell an annual 16.2% in May.

The industry ministry said higher exports of industrial products, stronger tourism and government spending supported output.

Thailand’s exports, a key driver of the economy, rose 7.2% in May from a year earlier, the biggest increase in four months, according to commerce ministry data.

Foreign tourist arrivals in 2024 up to June 23 reached 16.84 million, a 36% increase from the year earlier period, and the visitors had spent 795 billion baht ($21.6 billion), according to the tourism ministry. (Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Thanadech Staporncharnchai; Editing by John Mair)

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