South Korean exports last month posted their first back-to-back growth of the year, data showed on Saturday, adding to signs of recovering global demand and backing the view Asia's fourth-largest economy has bottomed out.
Overseas shipments by the world's seventh-largest exporter rose by 3.9 percent in November from a year earlier to $47.8 billion while imports grew by 0.7 percent to $43.3 billion, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy data showed.
South Korea is the world's first trade powerhouse to publish export and import data for the past month at a time when investors and policymakers around the world remain unsure about the near-term prospects for the global economy.
That produced a trade surplus of $4.48 billion for November, compared with a revised surplus of $3.73 billion in October. South Korea's trade balance has been in black for all but two months since early 2009.
Analysts in a Reuters survey had forecast November exports would grow a median 2.6 percent over a year before on top of a revised 1.1 percent gain in October, when overseas sales posted their first growth in four months..
It was the first time this year that exports grew for two consecutive months over a year earlier as consumers and companies in the crisis-hit Europe slashed spending while the major economies elsewhere underwent moderating growth.
South Korea is home to some of the world's largest suppliers of cars, smartphones and ships. It sends roughly a quarter of its total exports to China and about 10 percent each to the European Union and the United states.
The economy ministry will released more details about the November trade data later in the day, including the breakdown of exports by key regions and products.