SEOUL : South Korean exports likely expanded in September for an 11th straight month, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday, buoyed by a sales boost in key items despite fewer working days and a fading base effect from last year's trade slump.
Overseas sales in September were seen growing 16.3per cent from a year ago, the median forecast in a poll of 22 economists showed, although down from a 34.8per cent expansion recorded in August.
Most economists mainly attributed the slower growth to two fewer working days due to the Korean thanksgiving Chuseok holiday, but they expected per-day exports to remain strong.
"We expect headline export growth to stabilise largely on the Chuseok holiday in September, but underlying momentum to remain resilient following the trend in 20-day export data," said Kathleen Oh of BofA Securities.
"We expect external demand to remain solid across regions and products including semiconductors and non-tech products," she added.
Data from last week showed exports for the first 20 days of the month jumped 22.9per cent year-on-year, with those of semiconductors, petroleum products and wireless devices soaring 7.7per cent, 95per cent and 19.6per cent, respectively.
Exports to the country's main trading partners during the same period remained strong, with those to China, United States and European Union surging 19.7per cent, 24.9per cent and 34.2per cent, respectively.
Wednesday's poll also forecast South Korea's total imports to have risen 27.0per cent year-on-year. That compares with 44.0per cent in August, the fastest growth since May 2010.
"As the import growth rate is higher (than export growth), the Korean economy is expected to show the possibility of improvement in domestic demand and exports together," said An Ki-tae, economist at NH Securities.
The full month trade data will be released on Friday at 9 a.m. local time (0000 GMT).
In the same poll, 10 economists separately predicted that consumer prices this month would rise 2.3per cent from a year earlier, down from a 2.6per cent increase logged in August but staying above the central bank's 2per cent-target for a sixth straight month.
Some 19 economists also estimated that industrial output in August would have grew a median 0.5per cent month-on-month.
(Reporting by Joori Roh; additional reporting by Jihoon Lee and Bangalore polling team; editing by Richard Pullin)