South Korea's current account surplus hit a six-month high in May thanks to lower spending on overseas travel and a fall in dividend payouts to foreign investors, the central bank said Tuesday.
The surplus was 3.83 billion dollars in May compared to a revised 1.42 billion dollars the previous month. It was the largest surplus since 4.28 billion in November 2009, the Bank of Korea said.
"Heightened geopolitical risks and the eurozone debt crisis weakened the local currency last month, prompting people to spend less on overseas trips," Yonhap news agency quoted a central bank official as saying.
"The income account swung to a surplus on the back of a cut in dividend payments for offshore investors."
The surplus in the current account -- the broadest measure of cross-border trade -- could prop up the won, which has lost around three percent to the dollar this year due to the European debt crisis and heightened tension with North Korea.
The goods balance posted a surplus of 4.18 billion dollars in May compared with a 5.12 billion surplus the previous month.
Exports last month rose 38.9 percent year-on-year to 38.7 billion dollars while imports jumped 50.2 percent to 34.6 billion.
The income account, which records wages for foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, saw a surplus of 298.3 million dollars compared to a deficit of 1.38 billion dollars the previous month, as dividend payouts for foreign investors fell sharply.
The deficit in the service account, which includes spending by South Koreans on overseas trips, was 642.7 million dollars in May, down from a 1.85 billion dollar deficit in April.
The capital account, which measures cross-border investments, saw a net outflow of 11.96 billion dollars compared with a record net monthly inflow of 8.85 billion dollars in April, as local branches of foreign banks repaid overseas borrowing.
Source: AFP Asian Edition