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S. Korea current account surplus hits 4-month high


South Korea posted its biggest current account surplus in four months in March, bolstered by robust exports of mobile devices and other high-tech products, the central bank said Monday.

The surplus, the broadest measure of South Korea's trade with the rest of the world, totalled $4.98 billion, compared with $2.71 billion in February, according to a statement from the Bank of Korea.

It is the highest since November's record of $6.91 billion.

Exports rose 0.2 percent in March from a year earlier to $47.4 billion, boosted by brisk sales of IT devices and chemical products.

Overseas shipments of telecommunication devices such as smartphones and tablets amounted to $2.73 billion, up 12.0 percent from a year ago, while exports of semiconductors rose 7.0 percent to $4.65 billion.

Exports of display panels gained 4.6 percent to $2.26 billion.

But car shipments tumbled 10.5 percent to $3.68 billion as major manufacturers such as Hyundai were increasingly squeezed by a weaker Japanese yen which has hurt their price competitiveness in global markets.

Imports fell 2.0 percent year-on-year to $44.1 billion.

The services account, which covers non-goods trade including travel, swung to a surplus of $910 million from a deficit of $461 million in February.

South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy, is expected to post a current account surplus of $33 billion for the whole of 2013, down from a record high of $43.1 billion in 2012, according to the central bank.