Malaysia's economy grows 4.9% in Q2, faster than forecast on stronger domestic demand

Malaysia's gross domestic product expanded 4.9 per cent year on year in Q2, quicker than the 4.5 per cent annual pace in the first three months of the year. PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia's economic growth quickened in the second quarter, spurred by stronger domestic demand and a rebound in commodity prices.

Gross domestic product expanded 4.9 per cent in the second quarter from a year ago, up from 4.5 per cent in the previous quarter. That beat the median estimate of 4.7 per cent in a Bloomberg survey of 22 economists and was the strongest expansion since early last year.

Bank Negara Malaysia governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the central bank expects full-year GDP growth of 4.3 per cent-4.8 per cent, affirming the previous estimate.

Malaysia's strong showing bucks the trend across the region, where the US-China trade war has taken a toll on economies that rely on trade for their momentum. Earlier this week neighbouring Singapore cut its full-year growth forecast almost to zero, and Thailand is expected to roll out a stimulus package later on Friday (Aug 16). Goldman Sachs Group analysts on Thursday downgraded their forecasts for Asia's four "Tiger" economies, given the trade tensions.

Malaysia's economy grew 1 per cent on a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, slightly above the 0.9 per cent estimate.

Private consumption "remained as the main anchor to the economy" with growth of 7.8 per cent, chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in a release.

All sectors of the economy expanded in the quarter, with net exports growing 22.9 per cent and services and manufacturing up 6.1 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively

The current account surplus stood at RM14.3 billion (S$4.7 billion) in the second quarter, down from RM16.4 billion in the first quarter but far above the RM6.8 billion estimate.

Loan growth surged to 6.3 per cent in June, driven by demand for personal-use items and property purchases, which pointed to robust domestic consumption, MIDF senior analyst Imran Yassin Md Yusof said

The central bank announced further steps to improve market liquidity ahead of a review by FTSE Russell, which will decide in September whether to keep ringgit bonds in its index

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng is planning a "contingency package" in the 2020 Budget to insulate the country from the trade war's impact. Malaysia's trade shrank in June as shipments to China, its second-largest export destination, slid 12 per cent from a year ago.

Mining output increased 3.3 per cent in the second quarter after six consecutive quarters of contraction, helping industrial production to rise to near 4 per cent in the three months through June.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.