[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's export growth rose to 2.7 per cent in December from a year earlier, as its trade surplus shrank to 9.2 billion ringgit (US$2.58 billion), government data showed on Thursday, as the Southeast Asian economy was hit by falling world prices for its its oil, gas and commodity exports.
Imports rose 4.2 per cent from a year ago.
The export growth was more than expected. The median forecast from a Reuters poll of analysts was for exports to grow 1.0 per cent, and for a trade surplus of 9.00 billion ringgit.
November's trade surplus came in at 11.13 billion ringgit, its highest since November 2011, as imports were flat.
"There are some positives in non commodities exports - machinery and chemicals and food exports did quite well," Jeff Ng, economist with Standard Chartered in Singapore. "The general concern is that energy exports continue to contract." Mr Ng said the the trade data refelcted weak external demand and the negative impact of weak oil prices on Malaysia, but he said the second half of this year could improve.