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S Korea exports snap year-long downturn on strong US demand

SEOUL :South Korea’s exports in October rose in annual terms for the first time in 13 months, as shipments to the United States were robust while the weakness in China demand eased.

Overseas sales last month by Asia’s fourth-largest economy rose 5.1 per cent year-on-year to $55.09 billion, trade data showed on Wednesday. That, however, was weaker than a median 5.5 per cent gain tipped in a Reuters survey of economists.

It swung from a 4.4 per cent fall the previous month and marked the first year-on-year increase since September 2022.

By destination, exports to the United States gained 17.3 per cent, the most since May 2022, while China-bound shipments fell 9.5 per cent, the least in 13 months.

Exports of cars rose 19.8 per cent, extending gains to a 16th straight month, while petroleum products also jumped 18.0 per cent, after seven straight months of decline.

Semiconductor shipments fell for the 15th consecutive month, but the 3.1 per cent drop in October was the smallest in the streak.

In October, South Korea’s factory activity contracted for the 16th straight month, but the decline in new export orders softened, another survey showed on Wednesday. Still, demand in China was muted, according to the survey.

In China, manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in October, separate data showed this week.

South Korea’s imports fell 9.7 per cent to $53.46 billion in October, narrower than the 16.5 per cent drop in the previous month but deeper than a 4.3 per cent decline expected by economists.

As a result, the country posted a trade surplus of $1.64 billion in October, in contrast to economists’ forecasts for a deficit.

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