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, a separate report showed, 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. Still, the government expects overseas shipments to improve this year for exporters of goods including automotive components, commodities and semiconductors.
“Electronics and electronic components were a little weaker than expected in December and really led to the decline,” said Daniel Wilson, an economist with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore. “It was a soft figure to finish off 2012, but we are fairly bullish on the Malaysian growth story. We didn’t see quite a sharp fall off on industrial production which signals domestic demand is still quite robust.”
Malaysia’s exports of goods may rise 2 percent to 4 percent in 2013, Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed said in a briefing in Kuala Lumpur today. He reiterated a government forecast for the economy to expand 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent this year.
Gross domestic product growth in 2012 probably exceeded the government’s forecast of as much as 5 percent, Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah said yesterday.
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.