South Korea's current account surplus hit a six-month high in May due mainly to a fall in dividend payouts to foreign investors, the central bank said Thursday.
The current account surplus reached $3.61 billion in May, up from a revised $1.73 billion the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.
The May data marked the largest surplus since the $4.56 billion in November 2011 and the current account remained in the black for the fourth straight month in May.
The current account turned to a deficit in January after it remained in the black for the 22nd straight month in December 2011 on the back of exports, which account for about 50 percent of Asia's fourth-largest economy.
But the eurozone debt crisis and bleak global economic outlooks are blurring prospects for the export-dependent South Korean economy next year.
The BOK puts its 2012 current account surplus projection at
$14.5 billion, smaller than $26.5 billion tallied for last year. In April, the bank revised down this year's economic growth outlook to
3.5 percent from an earlier 3.7 percent estimate.
South Korea's goods balance logged a surplus of $1.75 billion in May, almost unchanged from the previous month, the BOK said.
The value of exports and imports declined last month, compared with a year earlier, spanning concerns that the country's overseas shipments are beset by the eurozone debt problems.
Exports declined 1.9 percent on-year to $46.3 billion and imports fell 2.23 percent to $44.5 billion.
The service account, which includes outlays by South Koreans on overseas trips, posted a surplus of $1.59 billion last month, larger than $549.7 million tallied in April.
The primary income account, which tracks wages for foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, logged a surplus of $341.6 million in May as foreign investors almost wrapped up the repatriation of dividend payments. In April, the account posted a shortfall of $422 million.
In March and April, offshore investors usually repatriate dividend payments of Korean companies that close their books in December, sapping the country's income account balance.
Meanwhile, the capital and financial account, covering cross-border investments, posted a net outflow of $3.1 billion in May, compared with a net inflow of a revised $55.4 million in April, the central bank said. (Yonhap News)