Malaysia's May Exports Stronger Than Expected, up 32.5% From Year Ago

By Yantoultra Ngui Features Dow Jones Newswires

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia's exports in May grew by more than expected, driven by strong shipments of electrical and electronics products, palm oil and crude petroleum.

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Exports from the third-largest economy in Southeast Asia jumped 32.5% from a year ago, according to the ministry of international trade and industry on Friday. A Wall Street Journal poll of economists had tipped a 22.0% gain. In April, exports grew 20.6% compared with a year ago largely on strength in the electrical and electronics sector.

Electrical and electronic products, which accounted for 36% of total exports, increased 31.3% in May from a year earlier. Exports of palm oil and palm oil-based products increased by 27.5% from a year earlier. Shipments of petroleum products surged 88.2% from a year earlier, according to a statement from the ministry.

Recent momentum in manufacturing and exports helped Malaysia's economy expand 5.6% in the first three months of 2017, its fastest pace in two years. The upturn in the economy since the start of the year has eased concerns about growth, which had been hurt by weakness in oil prices since mid-2014.

The latest data indicate that external demand is not slowing, as on a month-on-month basis, exports grew by 7.5% in May.

Exports to China, one of Malaysia's largest trading partners, jumped 51.5% in May from a year ago, the highest on-year growth since February 2010. The strong performance stemmed from greater demand for electrical and electronics, petroleum, chemicals and rubber products, the ministry said.

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Imports rose 30.4% in May from a year earlier, driven by higher imports of intermediate goods, capital goods and consumption goods, according to the ministry. The poll of economists had predicted a 19.2% increase. Imports grew 24.7% in April from a year earlier.

The trade surplus shrank to 5.49 billion ringgit ($1.28 billion) in May from MYR8.8 billion in April. The poll had tipped a surplus of MYR7.0 billion.

-- Write to Yantoultra Ngui at yantoultra.ngui@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 07, 2017 00:14 ET (04:14 GMT)