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Sept. 30, 2020, 8:24 p.m. EDT

South Korean exports grow for 1st time in 7 months

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By Kwanwoo Jun

South Korean exports returned to growth for the first time in seven months in September due to more working days and brisk semiconductor shipments.

Outbound shipments rose 7.7% from a year earlier to $48.05 billion following the prior month's revised 10.1% fall, preliminary data from the trade ministry showed on Thursday.

The reading marked the first on-year growth since February, beating the median forecast of seven economists polled by The Wall Street Journal for a 4.4% rise.

Imports rose 1.1% from a year earlier to $39.17 billion after a revised 15.8% drop in the previous month, with the trade surplus coming in at $8.88 billion. The median forecast was for a 5.2% fall in imports and a $9.86 billion surplus.

Analysts said the data looked better as the month had 2.5 more business days this year than in 2019 when Korea's thanksgiving holidays were observed in September.

Also supporting Korean exports were China's rush pre-orders for memory chips ahead of tougher U.S. restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co. in mid-September. Shipments to China rose 8.2% in September, the ministry said.

Write to Kwanwoo Jun at kwanwoo.jun@wsj.com

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