CITIGROUP: Malaysia likely to face technical recession

Citigroup Global Market forecast that Malaysia will go into a technical recession likely in fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009.

It also downgraded its gross domestic forecast (GDP) for 2009 to 0.5 percent from 3.1 percent.

The government official GDP forecast is 3.5 percent.

In a media briefing on Malaysia's Market Outlook for 2009 here today, it said that there could be a cut between 50-75 basis point in overnight policy rate in the first quarter of 2009.

According to Citigroup, GDP for 2010 is estimated at 4.2 percent, while fiscal balance is forecast at -5 percent in 2009 and -4.5 percent in 2010.

GDP for quarter four 2008 is forecast at 2.0 percent.

Despite the downgrade forecast by Citigroup, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop was earlier reported as saying that the government was confident that the country would not be experiencing a technical recession this year.

He said the country's economic growth was expected to stay positive during the period from January to June this year based on the equity of the financial system which exceeds 13 per cent, total liquidity which is in billions of ringgit and the low non performing loan (NPL) rate which is at about 2.5 per cent. — BERNAMA