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Malaysia July exports climb the most in over a year on China surge, but trade surplus narrows

* July exports up 4.5 pct y/y vs Reuters poll f'cast 0 pct

* Imports up 6.2 pct y/y vs 0.1 pct forecast

* Trade balance 2.9 bln rgt, vs 3.9 bln rgt f'cast

* Exports to China climb 17.5 pct y/y; U.S down 11.3 pct y/y

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Malaysia's exports in July surged 4.5

percent from a year earlier, the strongest percentage rise since June 2012, as

demand from China, Japan and most of Southeast Asia picked up, government data

showed on Friday.

The trade-reliant country's export performance for the month beat economsts'

expectations for zero growth and was also the best so far this year, thanks to

more shipments of liquefied natural gas as well as electrical and electronic

products.

But imports also rose strongly by 6.2 percent compared to the same month a

year ago and narrowed Malaysia's trade surplus to 2.9 billion ringgit, according

to data from the Statistics Department.

Economists had expected imports to grow just 0.1 percent, and a trade

balance of 3.9 billion ringgit compared with 4.3 billion ringgit in June.

For a graphic on Malaysia's exports and imports, please click: http://link.reuters.com/xyb28s

KEY DATA

(Exports and imports in percent, trade in billions of ringgit)

July June May April March Feb.

Jan.

Dec.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

60.73 56.75 55.79 55.81 60.01 52.46 56.99 57.27

Exports

y/y % 4.5 -6.9 -5.8 -3.3 -2.9 -7.7 3.5 -5.8

57.87 52.43 52.91 54.77 55.14 44.26 53.72 49.03

Imports

y/y % 6.2 1.3 -2.3 9.2 7.0 -4.4 16.0 -6.5

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2.9 4.3 2.9 1.04 4.9 8.2 3.3 8.2

Balance

MAIN EXPORTS

July 2013 % of % change

(mln rgt) total vs year ago

Electrical & Electronic Products 20,815.9 34.3 6.0

Palm oil 3,651.1 6.0 -15.4

Liquefied natural gas 5,247.0 8.6 67.8

Chemicals and products 3,969.4 6.5 1.0

Crude oil 2,020.7 3.3 10.5

Refined petroleum products 4,675.1 7.7 -10.9

Machinery 2,396.4 3.9 7.6

Rubber products 1,389.4 2.3 -17.9

EXPORT MARKETS

(mln rgt) % of total % yr/yr

China 8,254.3 13.6 17.5

Singapore 8,478.0 14.0 -7.1

Japan 7,134.5 11.7 7.1

USA 4,856.1 8.0 -11.3

Thailand 3,516.1 5.8 12.5

NOTES

* A Reuters poll had forecast exports to have recovered in July to snap five

straight months of declines as commodity prices strengthened and shipments to

China, Japan and Singapore picked up, although healthy imports may have narrowed

the trade surplus compared to May.

(Reporting by Anuradha Raghu; Editing by Kim Coghill)