South Korea's March exports set to rise on chip-led demand

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South Korea's exports are expected to have risen in March for a sixth straight month, as strong demand for semiconductors continued to lead growth, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday (Mar 28). Exports out of Asia's fourth-largest economy are forecast to have increased 5.2 per cent in March from a year earlier, a median estimate of 10 economists showed in the survey.

South Korea's exports, driven by semiconductor demand, set to rise for sixth straight month in March. Chip exports surged by 46.5% in first 20 days. Imports expected to decline by 8.1%, marking 13th consecutive month of decrease.

That would come after a 4.8 per cent rise in February, which was the slowest in the current sequence of annual gains that started in October, and was distorted by an unfavourable comparison base from the timing difference in the Lunar New Year holidays.

South Korea is the first major exporting economy to report monthly trade figures each month, providing an early glimpse into the state of global demand. "A semiconductor-led exports growth is continuing, while a robust trend is also seen in exports of ships and home appliances," said Chun Kyu-yeon, economist, Hana Securities. "It is likely US-bound exports will continue to be strong, with China shipments also improving," Chun said.

In the first 20 days of this month, exports rose 11.2 per cent, as chip exports jumped 46.5 per cent, which have been rising since November.

"Global manufacturing activity is recovering, albeit at a moderate pace, so the recovery in domestic exports will continue, with semiconductors leading," said Park Sang-hyun, economist, HI Investment Securities.

The poll also forecast imports down 8.1 per cent in March from a year earlier, after dropping 13.1 per cent in February. That would mark the 13th consecutive month of declining imports.

South Korea is scheduled to report trade figures for March on Monday, Apr 1, at 9am (0000 GMT). 


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