May 12, 2020 / 4:04 AM / 21 days ago

Malaysia's March factory output falls 4.9%, worst drop in nine years

FILE PHOTO: Robots weld bodyshells of car are pictured on the assembly line in the Proton manufacturing plant in Tanjung Malim, Malaysia, December 16, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s industrial production index fell 4.9% from a year earlier in March, the sharpest decline in nearly a decade, government data showed on Tuesday, as curbs imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic severely disrupted activity.

The index measures factory output from the manufacturing, mining and electricity generation sectors.

The drop was just shy of the 5% fall forecast by analysts surveyed by Reuters and the steepest since May 2011, when it declined 5.2%. In February, the index had risen 5.8%, fastest in more than two years.

All three main sectors tracked by the index posted declines in March, with electricity output falling 7% from a year earlier, the Statistics Department said in a statement.

Manufacturing output fell 4.2% on-year, while the mining sector index was down 6.5%, data from the department showed.

Malaysia’s exports had fallen 4.7% from a year earlier in March amid a global slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed last week.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Kim Coghill

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