Malaysia Reports Better-Than-Expected Trade Surplus In November

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Malaysia posted a better-than-expected trade surplus in November, indicating that the country’s economic condition continued to improve in spite of the global economic downturn.

According to the data released Wednesday by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia’s trade surplus fell to 9.3 billion Malaysian ringgit ($3.1 billion) in November from 9.6 billion ringgit in October but above the analysts’ expectation of 8.2 billion ringgit. Exports were up 3.3 percent in November compared to those in the same month last year, down from a 3.2 percent fall in October.

This report comes after it was revealed last month that Malaysia's industrial output rose in October compared with its output in the same month last year. According to the data released last month by Malaysia's Department of Statistics, the country’s industrial production index (IPI), which measures the change in the total inflation-adjusted value of output produced by manufacturers, mines and utilities, rose 5.8 percent in October compared with its output in the same period in the previous year, up from 5 percent in September and above the analysts’ average forecast of 2.4 percent.

Malaysia’s economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the third quarter. According to the data released in November by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the country’s gross domestic product, which measures the annualized change in the inflation-adjusted value of all goods and services produced by the economy, was up 5.2 percent in the third quarter of this year compared with that in the second quarter. This was above the analysts’ expectations of 4.8 percent, but down from a rise of 5.6 percent in the second quarter.

Also in November, the BNM kept its policy rate unchanged at 3 percent as expected by analysts, who feel there is little need for the central bank to provide support in the near term since the country’s economy is performing well in spite of the global slowdown.

However, analysts are concerned that Malaysia will face risks related to the global downturn. “We expect global demand to remain lackluster throughout 2013. Eventually, that should start to take a greater toll on Malaysia’s export-dependent economy. In particular, it will be difficult to sustain an investment boom in such a poor global environment, as private investors, who account for most of the investment under the government’s Economic Transfer Program, become more cautious of investing in large-scale projects,” Capital Economics said in a note.

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