KUALA LUMPUR (NewsRise) - Malaysia's November exports rose a better-than-expected 7.8% from a year earlier, buoyed by higher shipments of electronics and palm oil, official data Friday showed.
Exports in November totalled 72.80 billion ringgit ($16.28 billion), higher than 67.60 billion ringgit recorded during the same month last year, according to data released by the Department of Statistics. That compares to the median 1.4% growth predicted by economists and October's 8.6% year-on-year decline.
Economists said despite November's strong recovery, the exports reading will likely remain subdued in the final month of 2016 before improving further this year.
"For 2017, we project external trade to slightly pick up compared to last year on the back of firmer commodity prices and continued stabilization of the Chinese economy," MIDF Amanah Investment Bank said in a report.
Shipments of electrical and electronic goods, which account for more than a third of Malaysia's total exports, increased 13.2% in November from a year earlier. Exports of palm oil and palm-based products rose 24.3% while outbound natural rubber cargo rose 27.6% year-on-year.
In terms of markets, exports to Malaysia's largest trading partner China rose by 1.2 billion ringgit. Exports to the European Union were up 793.7 million ringgit and exports to Singapore rose by 1.4 billion ringgit in November.
Exports rose 5.2% in November when compared to October and was higher by 11.8% on seasonally adjusted terms, the data showed.
Prices of oil, a key commodity export for Malaysia, have risen sharply in the recent past following agreements among major global producers to cut output, while palm oil prices have also extended its gains amid supply worries.
Imports rose 11.2% to 63.80 billion ringgit in November from 57.4 billion ringgit a year earlier, driven by intermediate goods, capital and consumption goods.
On a month-on-month basis, imports gained 7.3% in November and were up 18.9% on seasonally adjusted terms.
Trade surplus narrowed to 9.0 billion ringgit in November from October's 9.8 billion ringgit and was 11.3% lower when compared to the same month a year earlier.