Malaysia’s economy further improving in Q2 – Statistics Dept

Invest #59 | Market Sentiments – 28 May 2021

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Inve$t #59 | Market Sentiments – 28 May 2021

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, Malaysia’s economy is expected to further improve in Q2 2021 especially on the back of a low base as the economy contracted 17.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, based on the performance of several key economic indicators. However, the recovery is also highly dependent on the extent to which the infection of Covid-19 could be brought under control and the consequence of movement control order (MCO) 3.0 with tightened standard operating procedures for the economic sectors and social aspects. Further to this, the leading index (LI) for March 2021 achieved strong growth at 17.3 per cent, mainly due to the low base effect of March 2020 following a nationwide lockdown and the better performance of LI components. Taken together, the LI performance and the current state of Covid-19 outbreak, it seems that the near term economic prospect is encouraging but prevailing challenges persist. The utmost commitment in easing the current pandemic situation is vital so as to regain the economic momentum in the upcoming months. Malaysia’s economic situation, gross domestic product (GDP) declined marginally by 0.5 per cent in Q1 21, continuing its recovery from a contraction of 3.4 per cent in the preceding quarter. The improvement was supported by the expansion in the manufacturing sector, the rebound of the agriculture sector and the better performance recorded by all economic sectors compared to the last two quarters. Malaysia’s economy in this quarter gradually recovered as more economic activities were allowed to operate following MCO 2.0, less stringent than the MCO 1.0 imposed in March 2020. Various stimulus packages introduced also steered the economic recovery and cushioned the potential economic losses of this country. Adding to this, the encouraging economic environment during Q1 2021 was largely driven by the better performance of key economic indicators in March 2021. Malaysia’s current account balance continued to record a surplus registering RM12.3 billion in the Q1 2021 compared to RM18.6 billion in the previous quarter, contributed by the positive momentum of the net exports of goods. Whereas foreign direct investment recorded a higher inflow of RM9.1 billion against RM6.8 billion in the preceding quarter owing to higher inflow in equity and reinvestment of earnings and lower inflow in debt instruments. Concurrently, direct investment abroad by Malaysian companies has also increased, gaining from the reopening of the global economy, posting RM7.8 billion in Q1 2021 from RM5.2 billion in the preceding quarter due to the high investment in equity abroad and retained earnings in this quarter. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s trade continued to rise, with total trade recording a double-digit increase of 14.8 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y). In line with this, Malaysia’s trade balance remained surplus at RM58.6 billion. In terms of the labour market, amid targeted measures to manage the Covid- 19 pandemic in the country, uneven recovery momentum in the labour market was observed as the number of employed persons decreased slightly y-o-y by 0.04 per cent to 15.24 million persons while the unemployment rate remained high above four per cent registering 4.8 per cent in the Q1 2021. From the view point of labour demand, the number of jobs in the economic sector decreased marginally as filled jobs declined while vacancies posted a small increase. Overall, the labour market remains in a challenging situation as it has not returned to the way it was during pre-Covid times.

Malaysia to see 6% to 7.5% GDP growth in 2021 if Covid-19 can be stabilised — Mustapa

According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia can achieve its 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of between 6% and 7.5% if the Covid-19 health crisis can be stabilised after the eventual lifting of the Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0). The availability of vaccines and a comprehensive vaccination rollout for Malaysians would have a positive impact on the country’s economy. If assuming that the percentage of Malaysians vaccinated goes according to schedule or can be accelerated, while the Covid-19 situation can be placed under control, then we will be able to see a positive decline in infections. And this will definitely have a positive impact on the position of the Malaysian economy. The Leading Index (IP) surged 17.3% in March 2021, much higher than an increase of 8.2% in January and 8.6% in February. The good performance was in line with the country’s GDP growth of 6% in March 2021. This growth momentum would be affected if the government decided to implement full-scale movement restrictions from May 25 to June 7, 2021. Full-pledged movement restrictions will cause the unemployment rate to rise sharply, the number of poor households will increase, the performance of small and large companies will be affected, and the fiscal position will be in a more challenging condition. During an engagement with industry representatives, micro, small and medium enterprises, and hawker associations on May 22 and 23, 2021, most of them agreed with the government’s decision to implement MCO 3.0.

Eye On The Markets This week

On Thursday (27May), the Ringgit was 4.1390 against the USD from 4.1425 on Monday (24May). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.1257 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (27May). On Monday (24May), the FBM KLCI opened at 1563.78. As at Friday (28May) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI is up 19.66 points for the week at 1583.44. Over in US, the overnight Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 141.59 points (+0.41%) to 34,464.64 whilst the NASD

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