The consumer confidence index (CCI) advanced to 79.3 points last month, hitting a 21-month high, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce reported on Thursday.
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The government also uses tariff measures as a tool to promote energy policy. To encourage the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel for vehicles, the government has exempted import duties of many natural gas-related tools and equipment such as bio-fuel conversion kits, natural gas containers, and chasses.
Externally, the trade balance in January 2009 recorded a 1,688 million US dollar surplus. Export value contracted for the third consecutive month while import fell even more rapidly. Export value dropped 25.3 percent (yoy) to 10,382 million US dollars. This was due mainly to contraction across the board except for labour-intensive industries which still expanded from gold export. Import value contracted 36.5 percent (yoy) across the board to 8,694 million US dollars. When accounting for the net services, income, and transfers surplus of 601 million US dollars from lower investment income transfer compared to the previous month, the current account balance registered a 2,289 million US dollar surplus.
Nevertheless, the impact on lending was muted. Commercial banks, concerned about credit risks in a contracting economy, were cautious in lending, while private sector demand for credit generally declined in tandem with economic activity. The rate of increase in loans by commercial deposit-taking institutions slowed from 8.4% in the ifrst quarter to 6.1% in the second. Stock prices as refected in the SET index, afer falling by 48% in 2008, picked up in the second quarter of 2009. The index rose by 45% in the first 8 months of this year, a gain in line with other Asian markets.