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S. Korean exporters' sentiment remains strong for new year
SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- A majority of South Korean exporters believe conditions for their business will continue to improve in the first quarter of next year, despite rising commodity costs, a poll showed Monday.

   The Export Business Survey Index (EBSI) for the January-March period of 2011 came in at 116.3, higher than 109.1 for the fourth quarter of this year, according to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

   A reading above 100 means optimists outnumber pessimists. The figure for the upcoming three months marks the seventh consecutive time the quarterly EBSI stayed above the benchmark.

   "There was a strong belief that the country's exports will increase in the first quarter of 2011 as economic conditions of its key import nations, including major developing nations, show continued signs of recovery," KITA said in a press release.

   Such a positive outlook is especially meaningful as the country's exports are expected to reach a record high of more than US$465 billion this year. The country earlier said its exports will again grow some 15 percent in 2011 to reach $513 billion.

   By sector, computer manufacturers expressed the most positive outlook by registering an EBSI of 144.4, followed by mobile phone manufacturers with an EBSI of 135.3 and shipbuilders with 128.6.

   The semiconductor industry was one of the few sectors that registered a negative outlook apparently due to rising manufacturing costs, despite falling prices of their products.

   Out of the 1,001 companies surveyed, 24.4 percent said they expected problems to arise from increased fluctuations in currency exchange rates, while 24.3 percent answered rising prices of raw materials will likely be the largest problem for them in 2011.