Malaysia's Oct exports drop 6.7% y/y, slower than forecast

* Oct exports -6.7% y/y vs -12.6% forecast in Reuters poll * Oct imports -8.7% y/y vs poll forecast -6.7% * Oct trade surplus 17.3 bln rgt vs poll forecast 10.6 bln rgt * Exports to China -11% y/y; Exports to U.S. +2.7% KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Malaysia's exports fell for the third straight month in October, though the pace of decline was slower than expected, government data showed on Wednesday. Exports shrank 6.7% in October, slower than the sharp 12.6% contraction forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll. In September, exports had fallen 6.8%, the biggest drop in three years. Exports to China, one of Malaysia's biggest trade partners, fell 11% in October, on lower shipments of electrical and electronic goods, petroleum and chemical products and crude oil, data from the International Trade and Industry Ministry showed. Exports to Southeast Asia, the European Union, and Japan also declined in October, but shipments to the United States were up 2.7%. Shipments of manufactured goods, which accounted for 85.8% of October's total exports, dropped 4.5% year-on-year on lower demand for electrical and electronic goods, chemicals, petroleum and metal products. Shipments of palm oil, a major export commodity for Malaysia, fell 9.8% from a year earlier, on lower volumes and prices, the data showed. Malaysia's imports in October fell 8.7% on-year, a sharp drop from the 2.4% rise in September. Declines were posted in all three categories of imports: intermediate, capital and consumption goods. Malaysia reports trade data in ringgit. The trade surplus in October widened to 17.3 billion ringgit ($4.15 billion) from 8.3 billion ringgit in the previous month. KEY DATA (Exports and imports in percent, trade in billions of ringgit) Oct Sept Aug July June May April March Feb Exports 90.6 77.7 81.3 88.0 76.2 84.2 85.2 84.0 66.6 y/y% -6.7 -6.8 -0.8 +1.7 -3.1 +2.5 +1.1 -0.5 -5.3 Imports 73.3 69.4 70.4 73.7 65.9 75.1 74.4 69.7 55.5 y/y% -8.7 +2.4 -12.5 -5.9 -9.2 +1.4 +4.4 -0.1 -9.4 Balance 17.3 8.3 10.9 14.3 10.3 9.1 10.9 14.4 11.1 MAIN EXPORTS Oct 2019 % of % change (bln rgt) total vs year ago Electrical & 37.4 41.3 -3.2 Electronic Products Petroleum products 5.8 6.4 -28.4 Chemicals and 5.0 5.5 -12.7 chemicals products Optical and 4.0 4.4 17.6 scientific equipment Palm oil & Palm-based 3.7 4.1 -9.5 agricultural products Liquefied natural gas 3.6 4.0 -17.1 Manufactures of metal 3.5 3.9 -20.0 Machinery 3.4 3.8 3.6 Rubber products 2.1 2.4 -11.0 Processed food 2.0 2.2 10.3 EXPORT MARKETS Oct 2019 % of % change (bln rgt) total vs year ago Singapore 13.9 15.4 4.1 China 13.6 15.0 -11 USA 8.9 9.8 2.7 Hong Kong 7.4 8.2 0.1 Japan 5.4 6.0 -20.1 ($1 = 4.1700 ringgit) (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)