January 4, 2019 / 4:03 AM / in 2 months

Malaysia's November trade surplus plunges on slowing exports

    * Nov exports +1.6 pct y/y vs Reuters poll +6.6 pct
    * Nov imports +5.0 pct y/y vs poll forecast +3.1 pct
    * Nov trade surplus 7.6 bln rgt vs poll forecast 11.5 bln rgt
    * Exports to China +3.9 pct y/y; to the U.S. -3.6 pct y/y

    KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Malaysia's trade surplus fell sharply in
November after hitting its highest-ever trade surplus a month earlier, as
exports lagged behind imports, government data showed on Friday.
    November's trade surplus stood at 7.6 billion ringgit ($1.84 billion), less
than half the 16.3 billion ringgit registered a month earlier.
    Malaysia reports trade data in ringgit.
    Total exports in November grew marginally by 1.6 percent from a year
earlier, far short of the 6.6 percent forecast by economists, on a sharp drop in
demand from China and a contraction in exports to the U.S. of manufactured
goods.
    Total exports to China, a major trading partner, grew 3.9 percent annually
in November on sustained demand for chemicals and chemical products, petroleum
products and liquefied natural gas (LNG), the International Trade and Industry
Ministry said in a statement.
    It was, however, a sharp drop from the 33 percent annual growth a month
earlier.
    Exports to the United States contracted 3.6 percent on softer demand for
manufactured goods, especially in the electrical and electronics sector.
    Shipments of manufactured goods, which made up 83 percent of Malaysia's
November exports, rose 2.2 percent according to the ministry's data.
    Exports of mining goods rose 16.1 percent on higher prices of crude oil and
LNG.
    Low prices for palm oil and palm oil-based products led to a 17.6 percent
decline in exports of agricultural goods in November.
    The month also saw imports rising 5.0 percent year-on-year, a sharp drop
from the 11.4 percent expansion in October, on slower expansion in local demand
for intermediate goods while growth was marginal in the capital goods and
consumption goods categories.
    
    KEY DATA
    (Exports and imports in percent, trade in billions of ringgit)      
                Nov     Oct     Sept     Aug     July    June    May    April
   Exports      84.8    96.3    83.1    81.8     86.1    78.7    82.1    84.2
                                                                        
     y/y%       1.6     17.7    6.7     -0.3     9.4     7.6     3.4      14
   Imports      77.2    80.1    67.8    80.2     77.8    72.6    74.0    71.2
                                                                        
     y/y%       5.0     11.4    -2.7    11.2     10.3    14.9    0.1     9.1
   Balance      7.6     16.3    15.3     1.6     8.3     6.0     8.1     13.1
                                                                        
 
    MAIN EXPORTS
                         Nov 2018      % of      % change  
                                                     
                         (bln rgt)    total    vs year ago 
                                                     
 Electrical &              31.2        36.8        -1.7
 Electronic Products                           
 Petroleum products         7.5        8.8         41.2
 Chemicals and              5.0        5.9         15.1
 chemicals products                            
                                               
 Manufactures of metal      3.5        4.2         -3.5
                                               
 Palm oil & Palm-based      3.7        4.4        -21.1
 agricultural products                         
 Liquefied natural gas      4.6        5.4         26.4
                                               
 Crude petroleum            2.9        3.4         17.7
 Optical and                3.2        3.7         10.5
 scientific equipment                          
 Machinery                  3.3        3.9         -0.4
 Rubber products            2.3        2.7         -2.7
    
  EXPORT MARKETS                    
                   Oct 2018       % of      % change       
                  (bln rgt)      total       vs year ago    
                                                    
 China               11.7         13.7            3.9
 Singapore           13.1         15.5            7.1
 USA                 7.3           8.6            -3.6
 Hong Kong           5.9           7.0            17.4
 Japan               5.9           7.0            -8.9
 
 ($1 = 4.1350 ringgit)

 (Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
  
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