Vol. VIII No. 9 - Tuesday
March 3 - March 9, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


BUSINESS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Gold price rising to Bt17,000 per 15.2 grams in months

NPLs rising in retail banking sector, says banker

ASEAN to increase fund of contributions to US$120bn on global economic slump

Gold price rising to Bt17,000 per 15.2 grams in months

The price of gold in Bangkok last Saturday rose Bt200 per 15.2 grams (one baht weight) and it is expected that its price would touch Bt17,000 per 15.2 grams in the next one or two months, Gold Traders’ Association president Jitti Tangsithpakdi, president of Gold Traders’ Association.
Saturday’s buying price for bullion gold increased to Bt16,250 while selling price also rose Bt200 to Bt16,350 per 15.2 grams (baht) weight as the public rushed to gold shops and sold gold and took away profits, Jitti said.
The gold price rise has resulted from its steady rise in its price overseas as traders believe that many central banks bought gold from their international currency reserves.
Gold shops in Thailand at the same time also relieved their stockpile by exporting gold overseas and it is expected that the country would earn tens of billions of baht, he added.
Thai gold prices last Wednesday hit record highs for a second day, at Bt15,950 per one baht weight for gold bars and Bt16,350 baht for gold ornaments, rising from Bt15,750 and Bt16,150 respectively. (TNA)


NPLs rising in retail banking sector, says banker

Non-performing loans (NPLs) appear to be rising, particularly in the retail banking sector, amid the current economic slowdown, according to a top Thai banker.
Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) president Kannikar Chalitaporn said lending is likely to decline in the first quarter of this year due to the sluggish economy.
However, she said she sees loan applications as picking up in the second quarter of the year.
Kannikar said the bank set its loan growth target for 2009 at 5-7 percent, which is in the same level as the expected loan market expansion.
The bank began to witness an increase in NPLs, especially in its retail banking group, she conceded, adding that whether the trend will continue rising depends on each bank’s ability to manage and supervise quality of customers.
“I’m not surprised to see exports in January drop by over 26 percent because the slump is being witnessed around the world. Entrepreneurs should adjust and prepare to face the continuing plummeting of exports and the continued slowdown of the global economy,” Kannikar commented.
Regarding the interest rate trend, she said, the bank must wait to see whether the Monetary Policy Committee would further cut the policy interest rate from 2 percent at present.
Interest rates the world over are in a downward trend, she observed. Commercial banks had already reduced their interest rates to quite low levels.
Should they cut the interest rates even further, it would negatively affect depositors, she said. (TNA)


ASEAN to increase fund of contributions to US$120bn on global economic slump

Finance ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to expand their countries’ financial cooperation to multilateral from the current bilateral status and will increase their fund contributions to US$120 billion from $80 billion during their one-day meeting with three East Asian partner countries, Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said.
The ministers’ meeting was held Sunday in Thailand’s Andaman Sea resort of Phuket, with ASEAN’s secretary-general and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) president also participating.
At the meeting, the 10 ASEAN ministers and the three East Asian partner nations - Japan, China and South Korea (ASEAN+3) - conferred on upgrading their financial cooperation to multilateral from bilateral to allow a regional-pact response to ASEAN member country facing a financial problem, Korn said.
He said the agreement will help boost the short-term liquidity of whatever country encounters problems as the global economic recession worsens.
The ASEAN+3 finance ministers also discussed the progress of the Chiang Mai Initiative, a program of financial cooperation launched in Chiang Mai in 2000, Korn said.
Under the terms of the Chiang Mai Initiative, ASEAN members will contribute funds from their reserves to $84 billion, but Sunday’s meeting upwardly revised the amount to $120 billion.
The concluding joint statement of the Phuket meeting will be discussed at the ASEAN summit at Hua Hin February 27 to March 1.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. (TNA)



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