On the expenditure side, private consumption increased by 10.2 percent, compared to a 1.6 percent advance in the previous quarter and government spending went up 1.4 percent, recovering modestly from a 0.6 percent drop in the September quarter and marking the first quarterly rise in three quarters. In addition, gross fixed capital formation rose by 1.4 percent, twice faster than a 0.7 percent rise in the third quarter. Meantime, net external demand contributed positively to growth, as exports of goods and services expanded 1.9 percent, swinging strongly from a 5.6 percent fall in the preceding quarter, while imports shrank 1.6 percent, after a 2.8 percent growth in the third quarter.
On the production side, output grew at a faster rate mainly for manufacturing (1.7 percent vs 0.6 percent in Q3); wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor (2.7 percent vs 2.2 percent); utilities (4 percent vs 2.2 percent) and transport, storage & communication (2.5 percent vs 0.4 percent). In addition, activity rebounded in mining & quarrying (3.1 percent vs -1.5 percent); hotels & restaurants (3.6 percent vs -1 percent); education (1.8 percent vs -1.6 percent) and health & social work (1.8 percent vs -1.2 percent). Meanwhile, the agriculture sector contracted 8 percent, softer than a 10.6 percent fall in the prior three month-period. Also, financial intermediation (-0.5 percent vs -0.8 percent) and construction (-0.7 percent vs 3 percent) shrank.
Year-on-year, the economy grew an annual 3.7 percent in the December quarter, slightly above consensus of a 3.6 percent expansion and following a downwardly revised 3.2 percent growth in the third quarter, which was the weakest yearly growth rate in three years.
In 2018, the Thai economy advanced 4.1 percent, compared to an upwardly revised 4.0 percent growth in a year earlier and market consensus of 4.2 percent. It marked the strongest pace of expansion since 2012.
For this year, the government expects the economy to grow between 3.5 to 4.5 percent, unchanged from an earlier projection, supported by private consumption, investment and tourism. Meanwhile, export growth outlook for the year was lowered to 4.1 percent from 4.6 percent previously estimated, amid a slowdown in global demand and uncertainty coming from Sino-US trade tension.