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More than 10% economic expansion in first quarter for the first time in 10 years
Thu, May 06, 2010
The Star/Asia News Network

KUALA LUMPUR - The country's economy is likely to register growth of more than 10% in the first three months of the year - an achievement not seen in the last 10 years.

The latest economic indicators show a positive trend. Exports in March grew by 36.4% beating the market forecast of 22.4%. Imports rose by 45.3% (forecasts were around 30%).

The London-based Financial Times says: "Given Malaysia's high exposure to trade, the numbers bode well for first quarter gross domestic product growth".

Analysts from major banks, local and international, put the first three months' growth at between 9.8% and 12% and they expect the trend to continue for the second quarter making it a "very good first half of the year for Malaysia."

As a result, the analysts are also revising upwards their estimates for Malaysia's GDP growth forecast for the year. Banks are now forecasting the annual GDP to grow by between 8% and 11% as compared to Bank Negara's earlier estimate of between 4.5% and 5%.

"Given the recent developments in both domestic and external conditions, we are confident our 2010 forecast of 8% should be achievable," said Ambank group chief economist Manokaran Mottain in his Economic update released here yesterday.

He also noted that besides the surge in exports, there was a marked improvement in private sector spending, especially by households. Big ticket items such as cars have seen increased sales.

According to the Malaysian Automotive Association, auto sales surged 25% year-on-year in March to 56,139 units, up from 44,896 in the same month last year.

HSBC Global Research economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde in his report entitled "From bust to boom - double-digit GDP growth in Singapore and Malaysia?" noted that the recovery of the economy came three months faster than expected.

While the Financial Times said, "Malaysia is roaring out of recession even faster than expected".

The country's key economic indicators including the export figures were released on Tuesday.

Malaysia's exports recorded a new high for the month of March, amounting to RM59.44bil ($25.3bil), registering a significant growth of 36.4% year-on-year. This was also the highest post-crisis monthly exports recorded since September 2008. Imports rose 45.3% to RM45.09bil ($19.3bil).

The increase in exports was largely contributed by increases in exports of electrical and electronic (E&E) products, which surged 31.8%; chemicals and chemical products, (+60.8%); palm oil, (+49.3%); transport equipment, (+188.4%); as well as crude petroleum (+55.8%).

-The Star/Asia News Network

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