Malaysia's April exports fall more than expected on lower gas prices

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia's April exports fell 8.8 per cent from a year earlier, worse than expected, as lower gas prices affected shipments, government data showed on Friday.

April's imports declined from a year earlier as consumer spending weakened after the implementation of a six per cent goods and services tax (GST) on April 1. Imports were strong in the first quarter as consumers made big ticket purchases prior to the GST.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast exports would decline 6.2 per cent, while imports were expected to be flat.

Exports to China in April grew 1.9 per cent, underpinned by bigger purchases of petroleum, metal, and rubber products, reversing gains made in March after 10 months of declining shipments.

Lagging commodities exports outweighed shipments of electrical and electronic goods despite recent demand from the United States for manufacturing products. U.S. exports grew 7.6 per cent.