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Philippines and Malaysia log GDP falls as COVID waves blur outlook

Manila reports 4.2% contraction while neighbor's decline slows to 0.5%

Local officials stand near a community quarantine checkpoint in Metro Manila in February. Surging coronavirus cases prompted further lockdown measures.   © Reuters

MANILA/KUALA LUMPUR -- The Philippine economy contracted by 4.2% on the year in the January-March period, extending its recession to a fifth straight quarter, while Malaysia's shrank 0.5% as both countries battle waves of COVID-19.

The latest gross domestic product figures, announced by the Southeast Asian countries on Tuesday, come as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin shoot for growth targets of up to 7.5% this year. But after a pandemic-marred 2020, the persistence of the coronavirus is fogging the outlook, with Malaysia resorting to a new lockdown on Monday.

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