Malaysian economy expands 4.5% in fourth quarter

Exports rose 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter, helped mainly by Ringit's decline against the dollar.

Malaysia's economic growth slowed in the last three months of 2015, but the slowdown was less than expected.

Gross domestic product in Southeast Asia's third-largest economy expanded 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter a year earlier, helped by domestic demand that made up for weak exports in a slowing global economy.

Malaysian economy had grown 4.7 percent in the third quarter. Overall for the year 2015, the economy expanded 5 percent.

Exports rose 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter, helped by Ringit's decline against the dollar. Exports growth in the third quarter was 3.2 percent.

Economists had expected poorer growth numbers in the fourth quarter. A Bloomberg survey showed the expectations were for a 4.1 percent growth.

"We are far from upbeat about the prospects for Malaysia this year. The effects of low commodity prices will continue to feed through into the real economy, curtailing investment in the energy sector, keeping commodity export income weak and hurting fiscal revenue," Capital Economics said in a note.

The Malaysian government now expects the economy to grow between 4 and 4.5 percent in 2016. Earlier it had projected as much as 5 percent growth.

The services and manufacturing sectors expanded 5 percent and the construction sector gained 7.4 percent, the Department of Statistics Malaysia said on Thursday.