Near-term economic prospects remain upbeat

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s near-term economic prospects remain upbeat as the country’s Leading Index (LI) increased by 8.2%, underpinned by healthcare and transportation, and as more people get vaccinated.

The Statistics Department said on Wednesday the LI, which is a predictive tool used to anticipate economic upturns and downturns in average of four to six months ahead, increased to 110.0 points in January 2021 from 101.7 points a year ago to record an annual growth of 8.2%.

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in a statement the increase in LI was supported by the persistent increase in Bursa Malaysia Industrial Index, underpinned by the healthcare index and transportation & logistics Index.

“Correspondingly, the LI showed an increase of 0.7% based on monthly comparison. The growth was mainly contributed by expected sales value in manufacturing sector (0.7%).

“At the same time, the growth rate of smoothed LI remained above the trend which indicates that the Malaysia’s near-term economic prospects remain upbeat, in line with the vaccine inoculation.

“Besides that, a more eased economic containment measures raise hopes for bringing the economic impacts under control, ” he said.

Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the report showed the Coincident Index (CI) declined by 0.4% to reach 111.0 points in January 2021 from 111.4 points in the previous month supported by a significant decreased in real contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) (-0.5%).

Similarly, the performance of CI -- which reflects the current state of the economy -- slowed to an annual growth of negative 2.2% in January 2021 from negative 1.3% in the preceding month.

The fall in the CI reflects the re-implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) with three stages starting on 13th January 2021 as a strict measure to break the chain of infection and transmission of Covid-19.

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