Malaysia’s exports rebounded, growing more than economists estimated in May after falling for two months, giving the central bank scope to keep interest rates unchanged even as Europe’s debt crisis threatens demand.
Overseas shipments rose 6.69 percent from a year earlier after falling 0.1 percent in April, according to a Trade Ministry statement today. The median of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 4.5 percent increase.
The gains may be short-lived as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and falling commodity prices weaken the outlook for exports. Bank Negara Malaysia, which refrained from joining Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in cutting borrowing costs earlier this year to bolster growth, will hold its benchmark rate at 3 percent tomorrow, all 19 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predict.
“Export growth will face headwinds in the months ahead from sluggish external demand and moderating commodity prices,” Daniel Wilson, a Singapore-based analyst at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said before the report. Still, “the policy rate remains accommodative and will likely remain on hold unless the external sector deteriorates further,” he said.
Palm-oil futures on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange fell 11 percent in May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Palm oil and mineral fuels account for 82 percent of Malaysia’s trade surplus, according to ANZ estimates.
Malaysia’s imports rose 16.24 percent in May from a year earlier, today’s report showed. The trade surplus narrowed to 4.6 billion ringgit ($1.5 billion) from 7.51 billion ringgit in April.
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