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South Korea Aug exports growth at seven-month high, boosts third-quarter prospects

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean export growth in August picked up more than expected to the fastest in seven months, data showed on Sunday, suggesting gathering momentum for the trade-dependent economy amid signs of stabilisation in advanced countries.

Overseas shipments last month rose by 7.7 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said, following a revised 2.6 percent rise in July and marking the strongest growth since a 10.9 percent rise in January.

Growth in shipments by Asia's fourth-largest economy was better than even the highest forecast from a Reuters poll of 15 analysts, who predicted growth of between 1.1 percent and 6.9 percent.

The average export value per working day -- useful for analysing monthly trends -- stood at $1.97 billion in August, higher than a revised $1.83 billion in July, Thomson Reuters calculations show.

Imports in August rose 0.8 percent in annual terms, compared with the median 2.7 percent rise tipped by the Reuters poll and a revised 3.2 percent rise in July.

The Bank of Korea forecast third-quarter sequential economic growth would accelerate from a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent estimated for the April-June period.

South Korea is home to some of the world's largest makers of cars, ships and smartphones, and the strength of its economy is closely linked to that of local exporters.

China is South Korea's largest export market, taking about one-quarter of shipments, followed by the United States and the European Union.

(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Choonsik Yoo)