South Korea’s Exports Rise for First Time in Four Months

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s exports unexpectedly rose for the first time in four months as demand from emerging-market countries offset the effects of a slowdown in major economies.

Overseas shipments rose 1.2 percent in October from a year earlier, after a revised 2 percent decline in September, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 16 economists was for a 0.7 percent decline. Consumer prices rose 2.1 percent last month from a year ago.

South Korea’s industrial production also rose for the first time in four months in September, adding to evidence that Asia’s fourth-largest economy may rebound. The Bank of Korea will decide interest rates on Nov. 9, after saying in a report to parliament yesterday that growth momentum is weakening.

“The latest data gives some hope that the economy hit a bottom,” said Kong Dong Rak, a fixed-income analyst at Taurus Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul. “This should give some relief to the central bank next week.”

South Korea’s won was little changed at 9:48 a.m. in Seoul, after reaching a 13-month high yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Kospi stock index fell 0.8 percent.

Rising Demand

Exports to Southeast Asian nations rose 21.1 percent in October from a year ago and sales to China gained 5.7 percent, according to today’s report. Overseas shipments to the European Union rose 2 percent, while those to the U.S. declined 3.5 percent.

Imports rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier in October, the ministry said today. The trade surplus was $3.8 billion after a $3.1 billion excess in September.

The nation’s biggest companies have shown resilience, with Hyundai Motor Co. reporting profit that beat analysts’ estimates in the third quarter. Hyundai, South Korea’s largest carmaker, said Oct. 25 it will probably beat its full-year sales forecast as deliveries climb 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter, led by demand in China.

Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s biggest maker of TVs and mobile phones, said Oct. 26 that operating profit from telecommunications more than doubled as its Galaxy brand devices widened their lead over Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

“Things have started to move up in Korea, even if not at full steam yet,” said Ronald Man, a Hong Kong-based analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc. “This momentum would need to be sustained for economic growth to pick up.”

While the nation’s economy expanded at the slowest pace in three years in the third quarter, South Korea’s output rose 0.8 percent in September from August, when it dropped a revised 0.9 percent, Statistics Korea said yesterday. The production data is a sign economic conditions are improving while global uncertainties persist, Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan said in a statement yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eunkyung Seo in Seoul at eseo3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net