[SEOUL] South Korean exports fell for an 11th straight month in November over a year earlier, but were still better than expected - building on hopes that exports may increase in the new year.
Exports fell 4.7 per cent on-year to US$44.43 billion in November while imports dropped 17.6 per cent to US$34.07 billion, trade ministry data showed on Tuesday. November exports fell at the slowest pace since July this year.
The trade surplus surged to US$10.36 billion in November from a revised US$6.7 billion surplus in October, the biggest surplus on record.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 8.3 per cent drop in exports and a 12.8 per cent fall in imports. "Once oil and raw material prices stabilise next year we'll see better performance in exports but only to a limited extent. Next year's growth will also depend heavily on consumption," said Oh Suk-tae, economist at Societe Generale in Seoul.
The average value of exports per working day was US$1.93 billion in November, more than a revised US$1.89 billion in October, Reuters calculations showed.
The government will release more details later on November trade performance, including shipments by destination.
Meanwhile, separate data earlier in the day showed inflation in November rose to its highest in a year as consumption sticks to its recovery course, undermining a view in financial markets favouring central bank interest rate cuts.
Societe Generale's Oh said the central bank was unlikely to move towards cutting interest rates as consumer spending has been improving.
The data showed services prices rose 2.2 per cent in November on-year, the highest since a 2.3 per cent rise in February 2012.
It was an echo of output data out on Monday, which showed services and retail sales improving in October, although manufacturing lagged.
South Korea is the first major exporting economy to report monthly trade data, and may provide an early indication of global demand.