KUALA LUMPUR: Exports from Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy rose 14.4% from a year earlier, according to data released by the country’s International Trade and Industry Ministry on Friday. A Wall Street Journal poll of economists had forecast a 13.8% gain. In October, exports grew 18.9% from a year earlier. Electrical and electronic products, which accounted for 38% of Malaysia’s total exports, increased 21% in from a year ago. Shipments of chemicals and chemical products, comprising 7.5% of total exports, increased 20.2%, while exports of petroleum products rose 1.2%, according to a ministry statement. Exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products decreased by 5.2%. Against a backdrop of strengthening economic growth, the country’s central bank appeared to tilt in a hawkish direction in its November policy announcement, signaling the possibility of higher interest rates in 2018.
Bank Negara Malaysia, which left the main benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.00% in November, is scheduled to hold its next policy meeting this month. Exports to China, one of the biggest destinations for shipments from Malaysia, expanded 3.3% from a year earlier in November while shipments to the U.S. grew 13.4%. Imports rose 15.2%, outpacing the 13.4% increase forecast by economists, as demand for intermediate, capital and consumption goods strengthened. In October, imports rose 20.9%.