South Korea Current Account Surplus Hits $2.25 Billion

South Korea’s current-account surplus widened in January on higher exports of electronics and petrochemical goods.

The surplus was $2.25 billion, compared with a revised surplus of $2.14 billion in December, Bank of Korea said in a statement in Seoul today. The current account is the broadest measure of trade, tracking goods, services and investment income.

Today’s figure may give a boost to President Park Geun Hye, who pledged on her first day in office Feb. 25 to revitalize the economy as declines in the yen cloud the outlook for South Korean exports. Growth pickups in China and the U.S. are boosting the outlook further for South Korean shipments.

“Korea is well poised to benefit from stronger external conditions over the year, especially in China,” Ronald Man, a Hong Kong-based analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc, said before the release. “In turn, stronger exports will lift employment and household income.”

South Korea’s exports rose 10.9 percent in January, the most in 11 months, as the timing of a Lunar New Year holiday distorted the comparison with the same period from a year before. Park may adjust currency trading rules if needed to protect local companies, her spokesman Park Sun Kyoo said in an e-mail last week.

The won weakened 0.2 percent to 1,088 per dollar at the close yesterday in Seoul, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Kospi index of stocks declined 0.5 percent yesterday.

(Corrects exports in fifth paragraph of Feb. 27 story.)
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