KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia's pace of economic growth likely picked up in the first quarter of this year, on resurgent exports and strong domestic demand, a Reuters poll showed.
The median forecast from 12 economists surveyed was for annual growth in January-March of 4.8 percent, up from 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. If the rate tops 4.5 percent, the latest quarter will be the third with quickening expansion.
Forecasts from the economists ranged between 4.4 and 5.2 percent.
Malaysia, Southeast Asia's third largest economy, has been buoyed by strong exports and resilient private consumption since July-September, when it snapped a five-quarter period of declining growth.
Tepid demand for its oil and commodities exports early last year pulled 2016 growth down to 4.2 percent from 5.0 percent the previous year. The 2016 pace was the lowest since contraction in 2009.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said in October that the economy would likely grow between 4-5 percent in 2017.
For the latest estimates on Malaysian economic data, please see ECONMY
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(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Richard Borsuk)