South Korean exports last month slumped the most in more than six years, with hefty drops in shipments to China, the US and Europe suggesting a further weakening in global demand.
The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy attributed the declines mainly to a sharp fall in ship contracts and low oil prices, but the sharper-than-expected deterioration is likely to add to fears that a deeper chill is settling over the international economy.
Exports last month fell 15.8 percent year-on-year to US$43.5 billion, their 10th straight month of declines and the sharpest fall since August 2009, ministry data showed yesterday.
Imports slumped 16.6 percent to US $36.8 billion.
China’s trade figures disappointed analyst expectations by a wide margin in October, reinforcing views that the world’s second-largest economy will likely have to do more to stimulate domestic demand given stubborn softness in overseas markets.
While Beijing has already repeatedly cut interest rates and softened the exchange rate to prop up the economy, latest trade numbers suggest that a greater risk of a hard landing remains.
October exports fell 6.9 percent from a year ago, dropping for a fourth month, while imports slipped 18.8 percent, leaving the country with a record high trade surplus of $61.64 billion, the General Administration of Customs said on Sunday.
Danish conglomerate A.P. Møller-Maersk A/S said Wednesday its Maersk Line container-shipping unit would cut 4,000 jobs from its land-based staff of 23,000. It is also canceling options to buy six Triple-E vessels, the world’s largest container ships, to cope with the deepest market slump in the industry since the 2009 global financial crisis. Maersk said it would also push back plans to purchase eight slightly smaller vessels.
After issuing a surprise profit warning last month, Maersk signaled it, too, was no longer immune to a combination of slowing global growth and massive container ship overcapacity on many routes.
The conglomerate said it would cut its annual administration costs by $250 million over the next two years and would cancel 35 scheduled voyages in the fourth quarter. That is on top of four regularly scheduled sailings it canceled earlier in the year.
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