ASEAN Market Watch: Thailand GDP Growth, Malaysia Manufacturing Sector, and Singapore Retail Sales

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Thailand: First quarter GDP growth fastest in four years

The Thai economy recorded its fastest growth in four years during the January-March 2017 period. This has been propelled by stronger exports, consumption and growth in tourist arrivals despite weaker private investment and public funding. According to a poll conducted by Reuters, gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to have expanded a seasonally-adjusted 1.2 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter, when growth was 0.4 percent – the best pace since the final quarter of 2012. As per the poll, growth is expected at 3.3 percent in 2017, up from 3.2 percent in the previous year.

According to data from Thailand’s central bank, exports grew at 6.6 percent in January-March, private consumption at 2.9 percent and farm income grew at 20 percent. Exports comprise about two-thirds of the Thai economy. Tourist numbers rose to 9.2 million in the January-March period from 7.8 million in the previous quarter, when some tourism-related entertainment activities were curtailed following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October 2016.

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Malaysia: Manufacturing sector continues to register steady growth

According to provisional data from Malaysia’s Statistics Department for March 2017, the country’s manufacturing sector continues to register growth, with sales expanding at 13.6 percent to reach RM65.9 billion compared to the same month in the previous year. Sale of petroleum, chemical, rubber and plastic products; electrical and electronic products; as well as non-metallic mineral products, basic metal and fabricated metal together contributed to four-fifths of the manufacturing sector’s significant increase in sales value.

On the other hand, the industrial production index (IPI), which measures factory output, expanded by 4.6 percent in March compared to the same month in the previous year supported by growth in the manufacturing and mining indices. The electricity index registered a marginal decline.

Singapore: Retail sales recover in March after previous month’s decline

According to Singapore’s Department of Statistics, retail sales in the city-state rose 2.1 percent in March to recover from a 2.6 percent decline in the previous month. However, sales excluding motor vehicles, rose by a smaller 0.7 percent year on year. Sales in March were also boosted by an 11 percent year on year growth in takings at gas stations.

However, a drop in sales was recorded at supermarkets, department stores, convenience stores, food & beverage outlets, and ICT equipment stores. The total retail sales value in March was estimated at S$3.7 billion (US$2.65 billion), higher than the S$3.6 billion (US$2.58 billion) in the same period in the previous year.

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