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[SEOUL] South Korea's exports are expected to have risen for a second straight month in December, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday, on rising commodity prices and as global demand picks up.
The median forecast from the poll was for South Korean exports to rise 6.4 per cent in December in US dollar terms from a year earlier, accelerating from a 2.5 per cent growth in November, which was the first gain since August this year.
Policymakers in Seoul have been upbeat over recent shipment figures, with trade minister Joo Hyung-Hwan saying last week exports are expected to post their first quarterly rise in two years in the fourth quarter of 2016.
"A rise in semiconductor prices and efforts to make up for strikes (at Hyundai Motor) earlier this year are expected to have boosted exports," said Park Ok-Hee, an economist at IBK Securities.
Next year, South Korean exports may post their first gain for the whole year for the first time since 2014 as the global economy rebounds, but protectionist policies and financial instability in China pose risks, said Lee Sang-Jae, chief economist at Eugene Investment & Securities.
Imports in December were forecast to be 6.8 per cent higher than a year earlier, the survey showed, slowing from a 9.3 per cent rise in November.
The poll also forecast annual consumer inflation in December at 1.3 per cent, steady from November but still below the central bank's inflation target of 2 per cent.
Industrial output in November was estimated to have bounced up by a seasonally adjusted one per cent in monthly terms, up from a preliminary 1.7 per cent fall reported in October, mirroring the boost in exports that month.
The industrial output data will be published on Dec 29, while inflation figures are due on Dec 30. Trade data will be published on Jan 1.