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UPDATE 1-S.Korea Sept exports rise for first time in 7 mths

* S.Korea Sept exports grow for the first time in 7 mths

* More working days due to calendar effect helped -analysts

* China’s Huawei stockpiling ahead of U.S. sanctions boosts S.Korea chip sales (Adds details)

SEOUL, Oct 1 (Reuters) - South Korean exports rose for the first time in seven months in September as major trading partners eased lockdowns and gradually resumed business activity, government data showed on Thursday.

September also had more working days than a year earlier.

Exports jumped 7.7% in September from a year earlier to $48.05 billion, the first expansion since February and the fastest rise in 23 months.

Analysts had expected a gain of 2.0%.

South Korea is the first major exporting economy to release monthly trade data, providing an early guide to the health of global trade.

Exports have been posting double-digit falls for most of the second quarter, but the gradual reopening of many economies around the world has increased appetite for South Korean goods.

Chun Kyu-yeon at Hana Financial Investment also noted there were 23 working days in September this year, 2.5 days more than a year earlier.

“The calendar effect, as well as improving demand for chips, computers and cars are supporting exports. But the gain in exports may not last,” Chun said, as there may have been front-loading activity ahead of the national Chuseok holidays in early october.

Chip exports surged 11.8% in September, which some analysts said was due to heavy stockpiling by China’s Huawei Technologies ahead of U.S. sanctions.

Overseas sales of cars and computers soared 23.2% and 66.8% each from a year earlier.

Shipments to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, increased 8.2%, while those to the United States surged 23.2%.

Imports increased 1.1%, rebounding after a 15.8% drop in August. This led to a preliminary trade surplus of $8.88 billion, up from $3.84 billion in August.

Analysts had expected a 4.9% drop in imports.

Local financial markets were closed on Thursday for the holiday. (Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kim Coghill)

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