Malaysia's Export Growth Continued to Slow in September -- Update

By Yantoultra Ngui Features Dow Jones Newswires

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia's exports grew at a slower-than-expected pace in September, the second straight month of deceleration after a blistering performance in July.

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Exports from Southeast Asia's third-largest economy rose 14.8% in September from a year earlier, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said Friday. A Wall Street Journal poll of seven economists had forecast a 20.2% gain. In August, exports climbed 21.5% from the previous year after a robust 30.9% growth pace in July.

Electrical and electronic products, which accounted for 39.4% of total exports, rose 17.7% in September from a year earlier, the ninth straight month of double-digit growth.

Shipments of petroleum products grew 22.4% from a year earlier, according to a statement. Exports of palm oil and palm-oil-based agriculture products fell 1.7% in September, compared with an 8.9% decline in August.

The pace of growth in September marked the 10th straight month of double-digit growth in exports. It was also the second consecutive month in which imports posted stronger year-over-year growth in Malaysia.

On a month-on-month basis, exports contracted 4.9% in September.

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The latest exports performance suggests a slowdown in the fourth quarter. Strong exports helped Malaysia's economy expand 5.8% in the second quarter, its fastest pace in more than two years. Third-quarter gross domestic product data will be released on Nov. 17.

In his budget speech last week, Prime Minister Najib Razak said that stronger domestic demand and exports would push up Malaysia's economic growth to 5.2%-5.7% in 2017, compared with an earlier official estimate of between 4.3% and 4.8%.

Malaysia's Trade Ministry said Friday that the government's full-year estimate of 16.6% export growth, released last week, was well within reach given the performance so far.

"This would support the projected economic growth of between 5.2% and 5.7% for 2017," it said. "With the emphasis on export promotion in the 2018 budget, exports [are] expected to be sustained in 2018."

Exports to China jumped 27.1% in September from the previous year, the 11th consecutive month of double-digit growth, led by higher uptake of electronics and electrical products, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, metal, rubber products and chemicals and chemical products, according to the statement.

Exports to the U.S. grew 10.7% from a year earlier in September, buoyed by higher exports across all sectors, the statement said.

Imports rose 15.2% in September from a year ago, driven by higher imports of intermediate, capital and consumption goods. The poll of economists had predicted a 21.6% increase. Imports rose 22.6% in August from a year earlier.

The trade surplus narrowed to 8.6 billion ringgit ($2.03 billion) in September from MYR9.87 billion in August.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 03, 2017 00:48 ET (04:48 GMT)