BANGKOK - Thailand's headline consumer price index in February dropped a bigger than expected 1.17% from a year ago due to lower food prices and government measures to curb living costs, particularly utility bills, the commerce ministry said. The February reading, marking a 12th straight month of decline, compared with a forecast fall of 0.20% in a Reuters poll and January's 0.34 decline. Without the government measures, the index would have fallen only 0.12%, ministry official Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit told a briefing on Friday. The main index is likely to fall again in March but at a slower pace, he said. The ministry has forecast headline inflation at 0.7-1.7% this year, with prices picking up from the second quarter. In February, the core CPI index rose 0.04% from a year earlier, compared with a forecast of a 0.17% increase. In January-February, the headline CPI index dropped 0.75% from a year earlier, while the core rate rose 0.12%. REUTERS
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