KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s annual economic growth slowed to 5.4 percent 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 was weaker than expectations.
The median forecast of a Reuters poll of 11 economists was for growth to cool to 5.5 percent.
Growth had slowed to 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 6.2 percent 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 percent was its best in three years, and well up from the previous year’s 4.2 percent. But the outlook for this year is clouded by uncertainty over what policies a new coalition government led by Prime Mahathir Mohamad will adopt following its surprise victory in a general election last week. (Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)