South Korean February export growth beats forecasts on chip demand

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean export growth exceeded market forecasts in February, trade ministry data showed on Friday, expanding for a fifth successive month as a surge in semiconductor demand made up for a decline in vehicle sales.

Exports from Asia’s fourth-largest economy rose 4.8% from the same month a year earlier to $52.41 billion, beating a gain of 1.9% tipped in a Reuters poll of economists.

While that represented a softening from January’s on-year surge of 18%, February export growth adjusted for working-day differences was 12.5%, faster than January’s 5.7%, the data showed.

There were fewer working days in February this year than last because the Lunar New Year holiday period fell in February rather than January.

Robust export growth in holiday-adjusted terms showed sales of chips – which soared 66.7% – and other high-value products remained robust, strengthening the view that a recovery this year in overseas sales can help prop up overall economic growth.

By destination, shipments to neighbouring China fell 2.4%, whereas those to the United States jumped 9.0%.

Imports fell 13.1% to $48.1 billion, versus the 10.4% decline seen in the poll.

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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