South Korea’s Dec exports likely rose for a third month: Reuters poll

By Cynthia Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s exports likely rose for a third month in December albeit at a slower pace, as stronger electronics demand is seen supporting the country’s economic recovery into the new year, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

Exports are expected to have risen 6.6% in December from a year earlier, a median estimate of 10 economists showed, slowing from November’s 7.7% expansion but seen growing for a third straight month.

Exports data out of Asia’s fourth largest economy is a closely watched indicator to gauge momentum for global trade, and Wednesday’s poll backs the view from policymakers that improving exports will support South Korea’s economy to expand 2.1% in 2024.

“Stronger semiconductor and ship exports likely to drive the biggest trade surplus since January 2021,” said Jiuk Choi, an economist at Citigroup.

In November, chips exports rose for the first time in more than a year, adding to evidence global demand is strengthening.

In the first 20 days of this month, exports jumped 13.0% from a year earlier thanks to rebounding demand for artificial intelligence-related chips, smartphones and other technologies.

The survey also showed imports likely fell 11.4% from a year earlier, after declining at a similar pace of 11.6% in November.

That is expected to widen the trade surplus further to $6.26 billion in December from a surplus of $3.78 billion a month earlier.

The same survey also indicated consumer inflation is seen barely easing to 3.26% from 3.3% in November.

South Korea is scheduled to report monthly trade figures for November on Monday, Jan. 1, at 9 a.m. (0000 GMT).

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim, Anant Chandak and Milounee Purohit; Editing by Chris Reese)