Malaysia December Exports Unexpectedly Fall, Output Growth Slows

Malaysia’s exports unexpectedly dropped in December amid fewer shipments to the U.S. and China, while industrial production rose less than economists estimated.

Overseas shipments fell 5.8 percent from a year earlier after rising a revised 2.3 percent in November, the Trade Ministry said today. The median of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 1.4 percent increase. Output rose 3.7 percent from a year earlier, the statistics department said in a separate report, lower than the median forecast of 6 percent in another survey.

Malaysia’s export-dependent economy remains vulnerable to fluctuations in global demand as the U.S. debates spending cuts and Europe continues to struggle with a debt crisis. The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts last month, and the nation’s central bank said in January world economic activity remains uneven.

“The weaker exports in December were due to crude palm oil prices, which were down year on year,” Edward Lee, a Singapore- based economist at Standard Chartered Plc, said before the reports. “Commodity prices were still weak.”

Imports fell 6.5 percent in December from a year earlier, after gaining 4.3 percent the previous month, today’s report showed. The trade surplus narrowed to 8.2 billion ringgit ($2.7 billion) from a revised 8.74 billion ringgit in November.

Output at factories, utilities and mines were forecast to rise 6 percent, according to the median of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Manufacturing output gained 4.6 percent in December from a year earlier, today’s report showed. Mining rose 0.9 percent, while electricity production grew 5.6 percent.

Manufacturing sales increased 6 percent in December from a year earlier, after gaining a revised 7.1 percent gain in November, the statistics department said in a separate report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chong Pooi Koon in Kuala Lumpur at pchong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net

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