South Korea extended its current surplus streak to a 29th consecutive month in July, helped by solid exports and a narrowing service account deficit, central bank data showed Thursday.
The current surplus came in at $7.91 billion last month, compared with $7.92 billion in June, according to the preliminary data by the Bank of Korea. The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.
With the July data out, South Korea's current account surplus during the January-July period totaled $47 billion, 56 percent of the central bank's $84 billion forecast for the year.
The balance of goods came in at $6.86 billion last month, widening from a $6.65 billion surplus in June.
Exports rose to $53.89 billion from $50.28 billion, turning around from two straight months of decline.
Imports came in at $47.03 billion, up from $43.63 billion and rising for the second straight month.
"A rise in oil prices drove imports, as raw materials account for roughly 60 percent of imports," said Jung Joon, director of the BOK's monetary and financial statistics division.
The service account, which includes outlays by South Koreans on overseas trips, logged a deficit for the ninth straight month but saw the amount sharply narrow on a decline in intellectual property charges.
The service account deficit reached $7.4 million in July, compared with a deficit of $575 million in the previous month.
A smaller-than-expected increase in the travel account deficit was credited for the improvement. The travel account deficit widened by $69.3 million between June and July, smaller than a $440.6 million increase in the same period last year.
"The increase in the number of Chinese tourists as well as a rise in their spending led to a smaller deficit. A total of 692,000 Chinese visited the country in July, up from 574,000 the previous month," said Jung.
The primary income account, which tracks wages of foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, registered a surplus of $1.49 billion from $2.23 billion the previous month.
The on-month decline was attributed to a sharp fall in dividend income after the account had surged in June due to a one-off factor.
The BOK official said the country's current account surplus may slip in August due to a fewer number of working days and summer holidays at some major exporters. (Yonhap)