Surprise drop in Malaysia¿s exports

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Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) - Malaysia's exports unexpectedly fell in December due to a decline in shipments of electrical and electronic products as well as commodity exports.

Data released by the Statistics Department showed that exports declined 5.8 per cent year-on-year to 57.27 billion ringgit (US$18.4 billion) while November's export numbers were revised to a growth of 2.3 per cent from 3.3 per cent.

Exports came in below economists' median consensus of a 1.4 per cent rise. Imports fell 6.5 per cent to 49.03 billion ringgit (versus the median expectations of a 1.5 per cent rise) mainly due to a 16 per cent decrease in imports of intermediate goods. Total trade in December was valued at 106.30 billion ringgit a 6.1 per cent decline compared with 113.21 billion ringgit a year earlier.

In a separate release, factory output as measured by the industrial production index (IPI) for December expanded 3.7 per cent compared with a year ago, below the consensus of a 6 per cent increase.

The Statistics Department said the expansion was contributed by manufacturing (4.6 per cent), mining (0.9 per cent) and electricity (5.6 per cent). The IPI for November was revised to a 7.1 per cent rise from 7.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, another release showed that the manufacturing sector recorded a 6 per cent growth in sales to 51.90 billion ringgit, boosted by the manufacture of semiconductor devices and vehicles.

Employment in the manufacturing sector increased at a slower pace of 1.6 per cent to 1.02 million people compared with a year ago. Total salaries and wages increased by 6.1 per cent to 2.76 billion ringgit. Meanwhile, the average salaries and wages per employee in December 2012 increased by 4.4 pe cent to 2,075 ringgit.

*US$1=3.0 ringgit

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