Malaysia's economy grew 5.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, which was above economists' expectations of 4.8 percent, supported by private sector demand and higher exports.

In a statement issued on Feb. 12, the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said on a year-on-year basis, the economy grew at a slower pace when compared to the 6.5 percent growth recorded in the same period previous year.

The economy in the first, second and third quarters expanded by 4.1 percent, 4.4 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively.

For the whole year of 2013, the Malaysian economy grew by 4.7 percent compared with 5.6 percent in 2012.

According to the BNM, growth in fourth quarter was supported by the major economic sectors. The services sector, which accounts for more than half of the GDP, expanded by 6.4 percent.

The manufacturing sector, which accounts for nearly 25 percent of the economy, expanded at a slower pace of 5.1 percent, supported by higher growth in both export- and domestic-oriented industries.

The BNM said the construction sector recorded slower growth of 9.7 percent, a decline from a year ago. Meanwhile, the commodities sector weakened, due to lower production of rubber, palm oil and crude oil.

The agriculture sector recorded slower growth of 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter while mining shrank 1.5 percent.

On inflation rate, the central bank said, the inflation rate in the fourth quarter increased to 3.0 percent, largely reflecting the upward adjustments to prices of petroleum products and sugar, and the increase in excise duty on tobacco.

Also in the reviewed quarter, trade surplus widened to 27.4 billion RM (8.4 billion USD) while the country's current account surplus rose to 16.2 billion RM (4.95 billion USD), from 9.8 billion RM in the earlier three months.

For the whole of 2013, the country's current account recorded a 37.3 billion RM (11.4 billion USD) surplus, down from 57.3 billion RM in 2012.

On international reserves, the central bank said the international reserves with the Bank Negara amounted to 441.7 billion RM (equivalent to 134.9 billion USD) and this reserves level took into account the quarterly foreign exchange revaluation adjustments.

The central bank forecast that Malaysia's GDP growth would be between 5.0-5.5 percent for 2014.-VNA