KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's annual economic growth slowed to 5.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, leaving the country's new government with the task of turning around an economy that has decelerated for two consecutive quarters.
The January-March gross domestic product data released by the central bank on Thursday (May 17) was weaker than expectations.
The median forecast of a Reuters poll of 11 economists was for growth to cool to 5.5 per cent.
Growth had slowed to 5.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 6.2 per cent in the third quarter, its strongest showing in three years.
The central bank said first quarter growth was propped up by expansion in private sector activity and strong support from net exports.
Malaysia's 2017 full year growth of 5.9 per cent was its best in three years, and well up from the previous year's 4.2 per cent.
But the outlook for this year is clouded by uncertainty over what policies a new coalition government led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will adopt following its surprise victory in a general election last week.