UPDATE 1-Thai April factory output posts biggest rise in more than 8 years

(Adds detail, outlook)

BANGKOK, May 31 (Reuters) - Thailand’s manufacturing production index (MPI) in April rose for a second straight month and at the fastest pace in more than eight years, partially due to coming off a low base last year, the industry ministry said on Monday.

The MPI jumped 18.46% from a year earlier, beating a forecast in a Reuters poll for a 14.6% increase and against March’s revised 5.89% increase.

The MPI gain was boosted by higher production of automobiles, beer and air conditioners, the ministry said.

Capacity utilisation was 59.58% in April, down from 70.65% in March, the ministry said, with extended holidays taking place in April.

The MPI this month should be again supported by coming off a low base in 2020, when the Southeast Asian country imposed strict measures to contain its first COVID-19 outbreak, ministry official Thongchai Chawalitpichaet told a briefing.

The country’s current wave of infections, which has included clusters detected in factories, may affect some production but should not have a significant impact on overall output, Thongchai said.

“Such infections were found among certain groups and are not affecting supply chains,” Thongchai said.

On Sunday, Thailand’s largest agribusiness firm Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl said it had closed one of its factories for five days after several workers tested positive for COVID-19. (Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai Editing by Ed Davies)