16.05.201905:28:00UTC+00Malaysia GDP Growth Slows In Q1

Malaysia's economy expanded at a slower pace in the first quarter on weak investment and trade, data from the Department of Statistics showed Thursday, yet exceeded economists' expectations.

Elsewhere, the country's central bank warned about downside risks to growth, mainly due to slowing global growth.

Gross domestic product advanced 4.5 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, slower than the 4.7 percent rise in the fourth quarter, but better than the expected 4.3 percent.

In its latest quarterly bulletin, released on Thursday, Bank Negara said, "Risks to growth remain tilted to the downside, arising mainly from external uncertainties such as further weakening of global growth and heightened financial market volatility."

"On the domestic front, unexpected interruptions in commodity production could also affect Malaysia's growth prospects."

Bank Negara Malaysia forecast the economy to grow between 4.3 percent - 4.8 percent this year. Going forward, private sector demand is expected to remain the anchor of growth amid lower public sector spending.

On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, GDP expanded 1.1 percent in the first quarter, after a 1.3 percent growth in the previous quarter. On the production side, except mining and quarrying all the other sectors showed a positive annual growth. The service sector grew the most, by 6.4 percent.

Farm output gained 5.6 percent and manufacturing by 4.2 percent. Construction output rose 0.3 percent. On the other hand, mining and quarrying shrank 2.1 percent.

The expenditure-side breakdown of GDP showed that private consumption that contributed 58.2 percent of GDP climbed 7.6 percent, but slower than the 8.4 percent expansion seen a quarter ago.

Meanwhile, growth in government spending accelerated to 6.3 percent from 4 percent.

Investment contracted 3.5 percent following a marginal 0.6 percent rise, due to a sharp decline in machinery and equipment investment.

Exports rose only 0.1 percent and imports logged a decrease of 1.4 percent in the first quarter.

Further, data showed that Malaysia registered a current account surplus of MYR 16.4 billion in the first quarter, which was the largest since the first quarter of 2014.

Last week, the central bank lowered its interest rate by a quarter-point for the first time in nearly three years citing several downside risks to growth outlook.

Headline inflation is forecast to average between 0.7 percent - 1.7 percent this year. Core inflation is expected to be stable, supported by the continued expansion in economic activity and in the absence of strong demand pressures.

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