By Kwanwoo Jun

SEOUL -- South Korea's exports expanded for a second consecutive month in December, bolstering views that the country's shipments overseas will likely rebound in the coming year after shrinking for two years.

Exports rose 6.4% from a year earlier, to $45.07 billion, in December, after a revised 2.5% gain in November, according to preliminary data from the trade and industries ministry and the customs office. The December reading is largely in line with the median forecast of a 6.2% increase in a survey of five analysts by The Wall Street Journal.

Imports gained 7.3% from a year earlier, to $38.07 billion, in December, following the previous month's revised 9.3% rise. The latest reading compares with the median market forecast of an 8% rise for December.

The trade surplus narrowed to $7 billion in December, from a revised $8.20 billion in November, exactly meeting the market forecast.

For the whole of 2016, Korea's exports declined 5.9% from a year earlier. They fell 8% on year in 2015.

The government said last week it expects Korean shipments overseas to expand 2.9% on year in 2017 on increasing global demand, even though the anticipated rebound will likely be limited by rising international protectionism and a slowdown in China, which takes in a quarter of Korea's exports.

Write to Kwanwoo Jun at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 31, 2016 19:42 ET (00:42 GMT)

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