May 4, 2018 / 4:00 AM / 23 days ago

Malaysia's March export growth rebounds, up 2.2 pct y/y

    * March exports up 2.2 pct y/y vs Reuters poll of 1.7 pct rise
    * March imports down 9.6 pct y/y vs poll forecast of 3.3 pct drop
    * Trade surplus 14.7 bln rgt vs poll forecast of 9.9 bln rgt
    * Exports to China down 4.7 pct, fall 0.1 pct to the United States 

    KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 (Reuters) - Malaysia's exports in March rebounded after a slowdown to
rise 2.2 percent from a year earlier, underpinned by higher shipments of manufactured goods,
government data showed on Friday.
    Export growth was above the 1.7 percent rise forecast by a Reuters poll, and up from the 2
percent decline in February, when shipments took a hit during the Lunar New Year break.
 
    The country's exports in March totalled 84.5 billion ringgit, the highest monthly export
value ever recorded, the International Trade and Industry Ministry said in a statement. 
    The growth in exports was mainly driven by higher shipments of manufactured goods,
particularly electrical and electronic products, the ministry's data showed. Manufactured goods
account for more than 80 percent of Malaysia's exports.
    Imports in March, however, declined 9.6 percent year-on-year, at their weakest annual pace
since September 2009, when they dropped 19.9 percent. 
    Imports of intermediate goods, which account for 52.8 percent of total imports, fell 14.4
percent from a year earlier in March. Imports of capital and consumption goods also posted
declines, the data showed.
    Malaysia reports trade data in ringgit. 
    March's trade surplus widened to 14.7 billion ringgit ($3.74 billion), compared with 9
billion ringgit in February.
    Exports to China, a major trading partner, remained tepid, falling 4.7 percent year-on-year
in March.    
    Shipments to the United States also declined marginally by 0.1 percent from a year earlier,
due to lower exports of commodities, electrical and electronic products.     
    For the first quarter of 2018, exports grew 5.8 percent, but imports fell 0.8 percent,
compared with the corresponding period last year.
    
    KEY DATA   
    (Exports and imports in percent, trade in billions of ringgit)      
                 March     Feb      Jan    Dec     Nov     Oct     Sept    Aug
    Exports      84.5     70.3     82.9    79.3    83.5    82.4    78.3    82.2
                                                                          
     y/y%         2.2     -2.0     17.9    4.7     14.4    18.9    14.8    21.5
    Imports      69.8     61.3     73.2    72.1    73.6    71.9    69.7    72.4
                                                                          
     y/y%        -9.6     -2.8     11.6    7.9     15.2    20.9    15.2    22.6
    Balance      14.7      9.0     9.7     7.3     10.0    10.6    8.6     9.9
                                                                          
 
    MAIN EXPORTS
                        March 2018     % of      % change  
                                                     
                         (bln rgt)    total    vs year ago 
                                                     
 Electrical &              31.8        37.7        8.7
 Electronic Products                           
 Chemicals and              6.6        7.8         7.8
 chemicals products                            
                                               
 Petroleum products         5.0        5.9        -24.6
 Palm oil & Palm-based      4.1        4.8         -7.5
 products                                      
                                               
 Machinery                  4.1        4.8         4.9
 Manufactures of metal      3.8        4.5         17.6
 Crude petroleum            3.6        4.3         18.4
 Liquefied natural gas      3.3        3.9         -3.3
                                               
 Optical and                2.9        3.4         -0.2
 scientific equipment                          
 Rubber products            2.3        2.7        -10.5
    
  EXPORT MARKETS                    
                  March 2018      % of      % change       
                  (bln rgt)      total       vs year ago    
                                                    
 China               10.4         12.4            -4.7
 Singapore           11.2         13.3            -4.3
 USA                 7.9           9.4            -0.1
 Japan               6.7           7.9            -3.5
 Thailand            4.7           5.6            9.5
 

($1 = 3.9330 ringgit)

 (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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