Kim Yeon-joo and Choi Mira
South Korea's export and import prices gained in August from the previous month on a weaker Korean won against the U.S. dollar, helping the chip export prices snap a 12-month losing streak.
According to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK) on Wednesday, the nation's export price index rose 1.5 percent on month to 101.90 in August, but down 3.9 percent from the same month a year ago. The index had stayed negative for two months, falling 2.2 percent in June and 0.3 percent in July.
The central bank attributed the month-on-month gain to the weakening of the local currency that averaged at 1,209.0 won against the greenback, compared with 1,175.3 won in July.
Export prices of industrial goods rose 1.4 percent from the previous month in August, with transportation equipment price up 2.5 percent and chemical goods up 1.7 percent. Prices for agricultural, fishery and forestry products also went up 2.5 percent.
Export prices of semiconductors, one of the nation's mainstay items, gained 2.9 percent from a month ago, marking the first rise in 13 months. When excluding the currency effects, chip prices added 0.1 percent on month. The prices of mainstay dynamic random memory (DRAM) chips stayed unchanged from the previous month.
Chip prices improved amid concerns of supply disruptions caused by Japan's restrictions on shipments of high-tech materials to Korea, which led to cutback in supply from some manufacturers and stockpiling of chip inventories.
The import price index added 0.9 percent to 111.17 from a month earlier in August despite a 6.6 percent price drop in Dubai crude to $59.13 per barrel from $63.28 in July. Raw material prices fell 0.3 percent while intermediary goods prices picked up 1.0 percent on the back of price hikes of computers, electronics and optical devices. Import prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) showed the highest gain of 7.7 percent, followed by system chips at 2.9 percent and iron ore 2.9 percent.
When excluding the FX factor, export prices slipped 1.2 percent and import prices tumbled 1.8 percent.