Holidays lead to drop in exports in January

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Holidays lead to drop in exports in January

Korean exports shrank in annual terms during January for the first time in four months, preliminary data showed on Saturday, undercut by the effects of the Lunar New Year holidays, which reduced the number of working days during the month.

Overseas shipments last month shrank by 0.2 percent from a year ago to $45.58 billion, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said, while imports shrank by 0.9 percent from a year earlier to $44.85 billion. This resulted in a trade surplus of $735 million.

January’s exports decline followed a rise of 7 percent in December and snapped a three-month streak of shipments growth.

Though this drop was the sharpest since September, January tends to be a seasonally weak period for exports, and the headline figure published on Saturday matched the median forecast from a Reuters survey of economists for a 0.2 percent drop.

The average exports value per working day during January was $2.07 billion, based on Thomson Reuters calculations, slightly weaker than the $2.09 billion seen in December, and suggesting there was no serious deterioration in external demand after accounting for the effects of the long holiday break.

“Exports growth in January and February tends to be volatile because of the Lunar New Year break, so the performance for those two months needs to be taken together to determine the current trend,” the trade ministry said in a statement.

Exports will once again this year underpin growth in Korea, home to some of the world’s biggest makers of cars, ships and smartphones. The trade ministry expects growth in shipments this year to pick up to 6.4 percent from a rise of 2.1 percent in 2013.

Strong exports are also likely to keep up its current account surplus, which would bolster its credentials when Asia’s emerging markets are being pressured by the tapering of quantitative easing in the United States.


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