Malaysia is expected to report strong fourth-quarter GDP growth of 4.7 percent, benefiting from increased industrial production and a boost to exports, analysts say.
The Southeast Asian country is set to report its fourth-quarter GDP growth early Wednesday morning. A series of upward-trending industrial statistics for December has most analysts agreeing that the fourth quarter should be a solid one in terms of growth for Malaysia, with a median forecast of 4.7 percent, according to Capital Economics.
“While fiscal tightening, accelerating inflation and high household debt burdens may constrain domestic demand, rising exports on the back on improving demand from advanced economies should help support economic activity,” Capital Economics analysts wrote in its Emerging Asia Economics Weekly note on Monday.
Exports indeed fared far better than expected in December, rising to 14.4 percent year-on-year, compared to 6.7 percent in November. Higher exports figures were recorded in a number of sectors -- crude petroleum ticked up to 24.2 percent from a negative 8.2 percent in November, while refined petro grew 62.7 percent compared to 18.0 percent in November. Machinery appliances grew 28.1 percent, up from 22.5 percent in November.
Electronics exports remained steady at 12 percent, while exports of commodities such as liquefied natural gas and palm oil recorded encouraging numbers at 16.2 percent and negative 8.9 percent, respectively, according to a Nomura research note published on Monday.
Destination-wise, exports to other Southeast Asian economies, as well as China and the U.S., improved in December, while those numbers fell for Japan and the European Union. Overall for the fourth quarter, exports improved to 10.2 percent from 7.7 percent in the third quarter.
Likewise, the industrial production index (IPI) rose by 4.8 percent in December, up from 3.8 percent in November. The number was slightly below consensus but strong nonetheless. Specifically, manufacturing increased for a fourth consecutive month to 6.7 percent from 4.4 percent in November, while electricity remained solid at 6.0 percent. Mining contracted by 0.8 percent. For the whole fourth quarter, the IPI rose by 3.4 percent from 3.8 percent in the previous quarter.
Nomura analysts expect, in addition to the solid GDP growth in the fourth quarter, that current account surplus, expected on the same day, to increase to 13.9 billion Malaysian ringgit ($4.17 billion), 5.4 percent of GDP, up from 4 percent of GDP in the third quarter, fueled by the substantial trade surplus of 27.4 billion ringgit posted in the fourth quarter. All in all, 2013 ended on a positive note for Malaysia, with an even better 2014 in sight.
“All these data support our view that the growth outlook is improving this year,” Nomura analysts wrote. “We expect growth to rise to 5.4 percent based on external demand improvements [in 2014].”
Sophie is a graduate of Northwestern University. She covers the emerging markets in Southeast Asia, with a particular interest in foreign investment in the region....