Surprise fall in Malaysia's January exports

A container yard at North Port in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur in this Jan 8, 2009 file photo.
A container yard at North Port in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur in this Jan 8, 2009 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia's January exports fell for the first time in eight months on weak global economic conditions and a slide in oil and gas shipments, government data showed on Friday (March 4), confounding economists'expectations for a rise.

Exports in January declined 2.8 per cent from a year earlier, compared with 1.4 per cent growth in December and a Reuters poll forecast of 2.5 per cent. It last declined in May 2015.

The Southeast Asian country's exports had expanded at a slower pace in the last two months, hit by weak global prices for commodity shipments and a slowdown in China, Malaysia's largest trading partner.

Imports in January rose 3.3 per cent from a year earlier, picking up from 3.2 per cent the previous month.

January's trade surplus was a smaller RM5.39 billion (S$1.81 billion) compared with RM7.99 billion in December.

Exports to the EU grew 6.4 per cent, while US exports rose 7.9 per cent supported by higher exports of manufactured goods.