Current account surplus hit 8-month low in Dec.

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Current account surplus hit 8-month low in Dec.

Korea’s monthly current account surplus hit an eight-month low in December on slowing exports, central bank data showed Friday.

The country’s current account surplus came to $4.82 billion in December, slightly up from $4.49 billion a year earlier, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The tally marks the 80th consecutive month of the balance being in the black based on a revised statistics criteria, but it represents the smallest monthly surplus since April when it hit a six-year low of $1.77 billion.

The goods account surplus declined to $6.53 billion in December from $7.92 billion a year earlier due to a drop in exports amid slowing demand for semiconductors.

Exports brought about a 10-month low of $49.57 billion in surplus in December, down 1.4 percent from a year earlier.

The services account deficit narrowed to a two-year low of $1.95 billion from a deficit of $3.71 billion a year earlier as the number of foreign arrivals jumped 16.8 percent on year to 1.32 million in December.

In particular, the number of Chinese visitors rose 25.2 percent on year to 416,000, while that of the Japanese soared 33.5 percent to 259,000. The number of departures edged up 3.8 percent to 2.5 million.

For the whole of 2018, the current account surplus reached $76.41 billion, up $1.18 billion from a year ago. South Korea posted the annual surplus for 21 years in a row beginning in 1998, when the country was hit by the Asian financial crisis.

The goods account stood $111.87 billion in the black last year, down slightly from $113.59 billion tallied in 2017. A surplus of a record $625.44 billion was from exports on the back of brisk overseas sales of chips.

The deficit in the services account narrowed to $29.74 billion in 2018 from the previous year’s $36.73 billion. This year’s loss was the second-lowest annual number, following the 2017 figure.

The BOK earlier expected the current account surplus for 2019 to reach $69 billion due to a contraction in exports and global trade.

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