Malaysia's economic growth hits two-year high at 5.6%
27 November, 2002 18:44 GMT+08:00
Malaysia's economic growth hits two-year high at 5.6 pct
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's gross domestic product grew 5.6 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the fastest quarterly growth in nearly two years, the central bank said on Wednesday.
The growth, the fastest since the fourth quarter of 2000 and coming off a low base last year, put Malaysia among the best performing Asian Tiger economies, lagging only Korea, which posted third quarter growth of 5.8 percent.
Central Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said growth would match the rate or be even faster in the fourth quarter and the economy was on target to meet an official forecast of four to five percent growth this year.
She said leading and coincident indices suggested growth should hold up in early 2003, but said much would depend on external influences -- notably any slowdown in the United States or war in the Gulf.
Even then, she said, the government had leeway to give the economy another booster.
"The fundamentals remain strong. If necessary, the government will make further fiscal stimulus," Zeti told a press briefing.
The average forecast of third quarter growth from a Reuters' poll of economists released earlier this week was bang on.
Some economists, however, have lowered their projections for the full year due to uncertainty over the sputtering U.S. economic recovery.
The United States is Malaysia's largest trading partner, buying one-fifth of its exports annually, and is also its biggest source of foreign direct investment.
The Reuters poll of 10 economists on Monday put the average growth forecast for 2002 at 4.2 percent, slower than the 4.5 percent expansion seen in a similar poll in July.
...Malaysia's manufacturing sector, which accounts for 80 percent of exports and a third of GDP, expanded by 7.3 percent from a year earlier in the third quarter.
Services, which account for 55 percent of the economy, grew 3.4 percent. The agriculture sector grew 5.4 percent.
The data released by Bank Negara showed third quarter GDP grew 3.4 percent from the preceding quarter.
The central bank data is not seasonally adjusted, reducing the significance of the change between the second and third quarters.