"This shows it's not all doom and gloom," said Song Sen Wun, an economist with Singapore's CIMB Research. "Growth momentum may be slowing, but it's not about to crash."
Said HSBC economist Sun Junwei: "The better-than-expected trade data should help alleviate ongoing concerns of a sharp growth deterioration in the near term."
Mainland industrial output was up 9.6 per cent year on year in May, while retail sales grew 13.8 per cent.
Trade data from Singapore also showed resilience, with non-oil domestic exports advancing 3.2 per cent in May from a year before, compared with the median estimate for a three per cent gain.
Malaysia's industrial production growth quickened in April, with output at factories, utilities and mines rising 3.2 per cent from a year earlier, after climbing a revised 1.5 per cent in March, the national statistics department said.
Customs data also showed a trade surplus of $18.7 billion in May, more than economists expected, while the median forecast for export growth was 7.1 per cent.