Rising inflation, trade surprise in November data

Rising inflation, trade surprise in November data

South Korea’s consumer prices continued to rise more than 1 percent for the third consecutive month amid the soaring prices of agricultural goods.

Prices of agricultural products jumped 7.9 percent from a year earlier, with prices of kimchi ingredients skyrocketing. Cabbage and radish prices soared by 82.1 percent and 120.7 percent, respectively, from a year earlier.

The service sector, which weighs most heavily on the consumer price index, rose 1.8 percent on-year, led by increased rent and liquor prices.

Energy prices, including electricity, gas and water, continued to decline last month, with a 6.4 percent fall on-year amid weak oil prices.

Even with three months of inflation above 1 percent, the Bank of Korea is unlikely to meet the yearly inflation target of 2 percent. For the four months from May to August, the country’s inflation saw less than 1 percent of yearly growth.

Meanwhile, the country’s exports saw an unexpected rebound last month with the largest volume since July 2015, government data showed Thursday.

Outbound shipments rose 2.7 percent from a year ago, with a total of $45.5 billion worth of goods exported, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It was the first time in three months that the trade figure had returned to positive terrain. Prior to August, Korea suffered from a record 19 straight months of negative growth, starting from January 2015.

The rebound came as major industries showed good performance, despite facing difficulties, Chae Hee-bong, deputy minister of trade, industry and energy, said Thursday.

Eleven of 13 key industrial goods, such as semiconductors, and steel and machinery, saw expansion last month, according to the Trade Ministry.

A total of $5.79 billion of semiconductors were shipped overseas, up 11.6 percent from a year ago, while exports of automobiles rose 1.5 percent, ending 17 months of negative growth.

Exports of wireless devices and ships, however, declined. Outbound shipments of wireless devices such as cellphones continued to contract in the double digits, with a 17.9 percent decline on-year after a 28.1 percent drop in October, amid the recall of Samsung Electronics’ fire-prone Galaxy Note 7.

The shipbuilding sector posted a 36.8 percent drop in exports in November, a sharp drop from the 50 percent gain in the previous month.

Exports to the nation’s two largest trading partners grew. Shipments to China, South Korea’s biggest trade partner, showed a turnaround for the first time in 17 months, while exports to the US, the second-largest exports destination, rose for the first time in six months with a 3.9 percent rise. However, exports to the EU fell by 22 percent on-year.

Imports logged 10.1 percent growth on-year to $37.5 billion last month.

Trade surplus came to $8 billion, making the 58th consecutive month of surplus.

Source: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20161201000907

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