South Korean chip exports rise for first time since 2018

Samsung Electronics beat earnings estimates this month after memory chip prices began to climb out of a persistent downturn.
Samsung Electronics beat earnings estimates this month after memory chip prices began to climb out of a persistent downturn.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - Early South Korea trade figures for January show the country's chip exports may be headed for the first monthly gain since late 2018, offering another sign that a recovery in global manufacturing is picking up momentum.

Shipments of semiconductors during the first 20 days of the month rose 8.7 per cent from a year earlier, the Korea Customs Service said on Tuesday (Jan 21). Overall exports dropped 0.2 per cent in the period, the smallest decline in more than a year.

South Korea's 20-day trade report is closely watched as an early indicator of global demand, but January data is typically hard to interpret because shifting dates for the New Year's holiday cloud year-on-year comparisons.

Still, Tuesday's figures reinforce a view that global manufacturing is starting 2020 on firmer footing. Samsung Electronics, South Korea's biggest company and one of the world's biggest semiconductor suppliers, this month beat earnings estimates after memory chip prices began to climb out of a persistent downturn.