South Korea's monthly current account surplus narrowed for a third consecutive month in February but extended its surplus streak to 36 months in a row, data showed Thursday.
The current account surplus hit US$6.44 billion in February, inching down from a revised $6.58 billion a month earlier, according to the preliminary data by the Bank of Korea (BOK). The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.
With the latest result, Asia's fourth-largest economy is poised to renew its record surplus streak of 38 months that began in June 1986.
"There was a mismatch in the schedule of calculating vessel prices and a shorter number of working days also affected imports and exports. A fall in prices of petroleum products, stemming from sliding oil prices, was another factor," Park Seung-hwan, the director of the BOK's Monetary and Financial Statistics Division, was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying.
The balance of goods reached $7.32 billion in February, gaining from a revised $6.69 billion surplus in the previous month.
The latest reading, however, raised concern on slowing exports, a major headache for a heavily trade-reliant economy.
Exports dropped 15.4 percent on-year to $40.6 billion, accelerating from a 10.3 percent on-year fall in January. On a monthly basis, the figure fell for a second straight month.
Imports slumped 21.9 percent to $33.3 billion, also quickening from a 16.3 percent drop in the previous month.
The service account, which includes outlays by South Koreans on overseas trips, narrowed its deficit to $2.06 billion from $2.38 billion in January.
The primary income account, which tracks wages of foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, halved to $1.4 billion from $2.9 billion as dividend income declined.
Investment income on equity dropped to $862.9 million from $2.32 billion a month earlier when the figure hit a record monthly high on a spike in dividend income at IT firms that directly invest overseas.
The country's annual current account surplus is forecast to reach a record $94 billion this year, according to the central bank's estimate.