Malaysia October Exports Growth Strengthens to 18.9%

By Yantoultra Ngui Features Dow Jones Newswires

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia's exports growth gathered pace in October after two straight months of slowing growth, driven by stronger shipments of major exports ranging from electrical and electronic products to petroleum.

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Exports rose 18.9% in October from a year earlier, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said Wednesday, almost in line with the 19.0% median forecast of nine economists polled earlier by The Wall Street Journal. In September, exports rose 14.8% from a year earlier, slowing from August's 21.6% growth.

The data for October marks the 11th straight month of double-digit growth in exports for Southeast Asia's third-largest economy. It was also the third consecutive month in which imports posted stronger year-over-year growth in Malaysia.

On a month-on-month basis, exports expanded by 5.3% in October.

Electrical and electronic products, which accounted for 37.7% of total exports, rose 16.9% in October from a year earlier, the 10th straight month of double-digit growth.

Shipments of petroleum products grew 21.4% from a year earlier. Exports of palm-oil and palm-oil-based agriculture products increased by 7.9% in October, a reversal from a decline of 1.7% in September.

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The latest data suggests that the final quarter of this year could still be robust in Malaysia. Strong exports helped Malaysia post faster-than-expected economic growth in the first three quarters of this year, which led to the government in October to revise its gross domestic product growth forecast to 5.2%-5.7% for 2017, up from its previous estimate of 4.3%-4.8%.

Malaysia's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, which was issued on Monday, hit a 3 1/2-year high of 52 versus October's 48.6, signaling strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Against a backdrop of strengthening economic growth, Bank Negara Malaysia appeared hawkish last month, signaling the possibility of higher interest rates next year. The central bank, which left the key benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.00% in November, is scheduled to hold its next meeting in January.

Exports to China expanded 20.5% from a year earlier in October, marking the 12th consecutive month of double-digit growth, led by higher exports of liquefied natural gas, metals, petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products, rubber products and crude oil.

Exports to the U.S. grew 13.8% from a year earlier in October, underpinned by an expansion in exports of manufactured and agriculture goods.

Imports rose 20.9% in October from a year earlier, outpacing the 20.4% increase forecast by analysts as demand for intermediate, capital and consumption goods strengthened. In September, imports rose 15.2% from a year earlier.

The trade surplus expanded to 10.56 billion ringgit ($2.6 billion) in October, the highest value since April 2016, from MYR8.6 billion in September.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 05, 2017 23:14 ET (04:14 GMT)