The FINANCIAL — Malaysia’s March exports unexpectedly rose 2.3% from a year earlier, beating market estimates, thanks to higher electronics demand from the U.S., China and Europe, official data showed on May 7, according to Nasdaq.
A survey of nine economists by The Wall Street Journal predicted exports to contract at a median rate of 3.0% year-on- year. In February, exports plunged 9.7% from a year earlier.
Exports totaled 66.47 billion ringgit ($18.64 billion) in March, compared with 64.96 billion ringgit last year, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said in a statement.
Key shipments of electronics products, which make up about a third of total exports, surged 15% in March. The export value of liquefied natural gas slipped 0.7% while that of palm oil fell 15%.
In terms of markets, exports to China, Malaysia’s largest trading partner, rose 6.6% mainly due to higher shipments of electronic circuits. Meanwhile, exports to the U.S. surged 15% on strong demand for consumer electronics.
Imports in March rose 5.8% to 58.64 billion ringgit from 55.43 billion ringgit a year earlier, the ministry said. Economists in the same WSJ poll had predicted an increase of 1.0% year-on-year.
The rise in March imports was led mainly by gains in capital goods, which surged 16%. Intermediate goods–unfinished parts such as circuit boards and automotive components used in the final assembly of computers and cars–expanded 6.7% year-on-year in March. Consumption goods climbed 0.4%.
Malaysia’s trade surplus widened 7.82 billion ringgit in March from 4.56 billion ringgit in February, the ministry said.