ING upgrades Malaysia GDP forecast to 6.5%

ING said it has upgraded its 2004 GDP forecasts for Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines following positive data in the first quarter. 

“The figures coming in for the first quarter have generally surprised on the upside and ING sees future growth rising still further in the next two quarters, supported by exceptional global growth momentum,” Tim Condon, head of ING's financial markets research, said. 

“We see 2004 shaping up as the year of fastest growth since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Export-led growth has succeeded in resuscitating domestic spending to that point that domestic demand has taken over from exports as driver of top-line growth in most of the region,” Condon said. 

Hong Kong's GDP grow will grow at 6.5% this year compared with the previous forecast of 6%, ING said, while Singapore's growth this year will likely be at 7% from the previous forecast of 6%. 

GDP growth forecast this year for Malaysia has been upgraded slightly to 6.5% from 6.3%, while the forecast for growth for the Philippines has been raised to 5.6% from 5.3%, it said. 

For Taiwan, the GDP growth forecast for the year has been increased to 6% from 5.5%, it added. 

Condon said that despite stronger domestic demand in these countries, inflationary pressures in most economies are well contained. 

ING said surging oil prices remain a concern, although it believes that such supply-side shocks have been well managed by the region's central banks. – AFX-Asia 

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