World Economy

South Korea Jan Exports Surge

South Korea Jan Exports SurgeSouth Korea Jan Exports Surge

South Korean exports rose in January for a third consecutive month and at the fastest pace in nearly five years, preliminary data showed on Wednesday, handsomely beating expectations.

The news will offer some hope for policymakers struggling with uncertainties ranging from US President Donald Trump’s proposed trade policies to political risks at home, Reuters reported.

Wednesday’s news was not all good, however, with a survey showing South Korea’s manufacturing activity contracted for a sixth straight month in January on quickening declines in output and new orders.

The Nikkei/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index for South Korea’s manufacturing sector fell to 49.0 in January from 49.4 in December.

Production at South Korean manufacturers also declined for a sixth straight month due to unstable economic conditions and weak demand, prompting some companies to cut back further on staffing.

Although January’s headline reading stayed below 50, it was not far from December’s reading which was the highest since July last year, mainly thanks to global demand for exports.

The sub-index on new export orders stood at 50.2 in January, slowing from 51.6 in December, while overall new orders from home and abroad contracted for an eighth straight month, albeit at a marginal pace.

Shipments from South Korea leapt 11.2% in January from a year earlier to $40.33 billion, the biggest jump since a 20.4% increase in February 2012, data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy showed.

Imports rose at a faster 18.6% to $37.13 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $3.2 billion. The surplus for January was smaller than December’s $6.8 billion because of robust growth in imports.

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