Thailand central bank holds rates

Thailand's central bank held interest rates at 2.75 percent Wednesday citing a brightening global outlook led by the key US and Chinese economies.

The Bank of Thailand, which last month cut rates for the first time in nine months to help manufacturers, said borrowing costs remained "conducive to growth", but it pledged to react if the global economy worsens.

"There was sustained improvement in the US labour and housing markets, although the fiscal cliff remained a risk factor," it said in a statement, referring to a US political impasse over looming tax hikes and spending cuts.

"China's economy appeared to regain traction... in all key areas," it said, adding the debt-mired eurozone was also "projected to be more stable next year".

Responding to the strengthening global economy, the bank forecast Thailand's exports would grow in the first half of 2013 after a disappointing 2012.

But analysts from consultancy firm Capital Economics predicted the global economy would slow next year "which bodes ill for Thailand's manufacturing output and exports".

The kingdom's febrile politics also pose a risk looking ahead, Capital Economics said in a statement, citing last weekend's anti-government rally by an estimated 20,000 royalists which sparked clashes with police.

"A severe escalation in political tensions has the potential to delay public spending on flood-related infrastructure projects, which would be detrimental for domestic demand," it added.

Thailand suffered devastating floods in late 2011 which took a heavy toll on its lucrative manufacturing base, but its economy has since recovered strongly.

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