In the first quarter, private expenditure went up by 7.6 percent, following an 8.4 percent gain in the previous period, driven by consumption of food & non-alcoholic beverages, transport and restaurants & hotels. Meantime, government spending rose 6.3 percent, faster than a 4.0 percent increase in the prior three months. Also, exports increased by 0.1 percent, slowing from a 3.1 percent rise in the December quarter while imports fell 1.4 percent, reversing from a 1.8 percent rise in the previous three months. However, gross fixed capital formation dropped 3.5 percent, after a 0.6 percent advance in the preceding quarter, mainly due to a decline in machinery & equipment investment.
On the production side, growth slowed for services (6.4 percent vs 6.9 percent in Q4); manufacturing (4.2 percent vs 4.7 percent), and construction (0.3 percent vs 2.6 percent) while output shrank faster for mining & quarrying (-2.1 percent vs -0.7 percent). In contrast, agricultural activity rebounded sharply (5.6 percent vs -0.1 percent), after posting declines for three consecutive quarters, mainly due to a recovery in production of palm oil (9.8 percent vs -2.7 percent). Additional gains came from marine fishing (9.4 percent); livestock (4.8 percent) and rubber (12 percent).
On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted basis, the GDP grew by 1.1 percent in the first quarter, following a downwardly revised 1.3 percent expansion in the previous quarter.
For 2019, the economy is estimated to grow between 4.3 percent - 4.8 percent, driven mainly by domestic demand amid lower public sector spending while external sector is likely to soften with moderating global demand.
Headline inflation is expected to average between 0.7 percent - 1.7 percent. Core inflation is estimated to be stable, supported by the continued expansion in economic activity and in the absence of strong demand pressures.
From reference first quarter 2019, the index has been rebased from 2010 to base year 2015.