Malaysia Exports Growth Slowed in November but Beat Forecast -- Update

By Saurabh Chaturvedi Features Dow Jones Newswires

Malaysia's exports growth eased in November but still beat expectations, helped by higher shipments of electrical and electronics products.

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Exports from Southeast Asia's third-largest economy rose 14.4% from a year earlier, according to data released by the country's International Trade and Industry Ministry on Friday. A Wall Street Journal poll of economists had forecast a 13.8% gain. In October, exports grew 18.9% from a year earlier.

Exports in November rose 1.5% from a month earlier.

Electrical and electronic products, which accounted for 38% of Malaysia's total exports, increased 21% in from a year ago. Shipments of chemicals and chemical products, comprising 7.5% of total exports, increased 20.2%, while exports of petroleum products rose 1.2%, according to a ministry statement.

Exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products decreased by 5.2%.

The data suggests that the final quarter of last year could continue a robust growth streak in Malaysia. Strong exports helped the country post faster-than-expected economic expansion in the first three quarters of 2017, which led to the government's revising of its full-year gross domestic product growth forecast in October. It raised the forecast to 5.2%-5.7% from a previous estimate of 4.3%-4.8%.

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Against a backdrop of strengthening economic growth, the country's central bank appeared to tilt in a hawkish direction in its November policy announcement, signaling the possibility of higher interest rates in 2018.

Bank Negara Malaysia, which left the main benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.00% in November, is scheduled to hold its next policy meeting this month.

Exports to China, one of the biggest destinations for shipments from Malaysia, expanded 3.3% from a year earlier in November while shipments to the U.S. grew 13.4%.

Imports rose 15.2%, outpacing the 13.4% increase forecast by economists, as demand for intermediate, capital and consumption goods strengthened. In October, imports rose 20.9%.

The trade surplus stood at 9.95 billion ringgit ($2.5 billion) in November, down from MYR10.56 billion in October.

Write to Saurabh Chaturvedi at saurabh.chaturvedi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 04, 2018 23:27 ET (04:27 GMT)