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KUALA LUMPUR: Economists predict Malaysia’s economy to grow at the fastest pace in Southeast Asia region after the Philippines in the first quarter of this year.  

Malaysia is expected to register 5.6 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter, higher than emerging economies’ GDP growth expectation of 5.4 per cent.

The country is forecast to come in as the third fastest growing economy among emerging economies, below the Philippines and Romania, according to Bloomberg data.

Bloomberg data further showed emerging economies GDP growth is expected to be steady in the quarter.   

Finding also shows the median first-quarter gross domestic product growth forecast for emerging economies was unchanged from the past week at 5.4 per cent.

The forecasts by Bloomberg are calculated based on the estimates available for the countries in the group.

The data weightings are based on the country's nominal GDP in US dollar terms as supplied by the International Monetary Fund.

JP Morgan Chase in its latest report said Malaysia’s economy in the first quarter is expected to register strong growth, to be driven by stronger manufacturing exports.

The banking group based in the United States has revised the GDP growth forecast upward to seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter from 5.5 per cent previously.

It however maintained Malaysia’s overall GDP growth year-on-year at 5.8 per cent, the highest on the street.

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said consumer spending in Malaysia will continue to remain healthy to drive GDP growth as sentiments improved premised on the recently-reported Consumer Sentiment Index data, recorded at 1.8 per cent for the first quarter of this year.

“Inflation rate was low thereby consumers purchasing power is intact. Labour market remains stable, leading to a steady flow of income,” he said. 

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