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S. Korea current account surplus hits record high in June: central bank

SEOUL -- South Korea's current account surplus hit a record high in June as imports declined in value due to falling oil prices and the gloomier economic outlook, the central bank said Friday.

The surplus in the account — the broadest measure of trade — was US$5.84 billion, up from a revised US$3.57 billion in May.

The goods account saw a surplus of US$5.01 billion in June, a sharp rise from May's US$1.72 billion, as imports of crude oil, raw materials and capital goods such as telecommunications equipment fell in value.

Analysts said the current account would likely stay in surplus throughout this year as slowing imports outpace a moderated growth in exports — a sign that South Korea's growth momentum is easing.

Data released Thursday showed the export-dominated economy grew just 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in April-June, compared with 0.9 percent in January-March.

The current account data showed that overall exports rose 1.1 percent in June from a year earlier on a customs-cleared basis. But shipments of major items to key regions faltered along with the global economy.

Sales to European countries fell 19.7 percent in June from a year earlier after a 0.9 percent year-on-year decline in May.

Shipments to China, South Korea's largest export market, dropped 2.4 percent after May's 5 percent fall.

Exports to the U.S. declined 0.3 percent following an 8.4 percent fall the previous month.

The service account, which includes spending by South Koreans on overseas trips, posted a surplus of US$170.1 million in June, down sharply from a surplus of US$1.59 billion in May.

The primary income account, which tracks wages of foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, recorded a surplus of US$901.8 million in June, up from a US$341.6 million surplus in May.

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