Malaysia’s pace of economic growth likely picked up in the first quarter of this year, on resurgent exports and strong domestic demand, a Reuters poll showed.

The median forecast from 12 economists surveyed was for annual growth in January-March of 4.8%, up from 4.5% in the fourth quarter of 2016. If the rate tops 4.5%, the latest quarter will be the third with quickening expansion.

Forecasts from the economists ranged between 4.4% and 5.2%.

Malaysia, Southeast Asia’s third largest economy, has been buoyed by strong exports and resilient private consumption since July-September, when it snapped a five-quarter period of declining growth.

Tepid demand for its oil and commodities exports early last year pulled 2016 growth down to 4.2% from 5.0% the previous year. The 2016 pace was the lowest since contraction in 2009.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in October that the economy would likely grow between 4-5% in 2017.



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