SEOUL, Oct 1 South Korean exports in September fell 0.4 percent from a year earlier, miss

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SEOUL, Oct 1 (Reuters) South Korean exports in September fell 0.4 percent from a year earlier, missing expectations for a rise, data showed on Monday, raising concerns about the impact from a slowdown in the U.S. economy.

It is the first time for the country's monthly exports to fall over a year earlier since June 2002, a commerce ministry official said.

A Reuters poll had forecast exports would rise 7.1 percent from a year earlier, lower than revised growth of 14.0 percent in August.

Imports in September also fell 2.1 from a year earlier, below a forecast for 7.4 percent growth and decelerating from a revised 9.8 percent rise in August.

Exports totalled a provisional $29.55 billion in September on a customs-cleared basis, while imports totalled $27.06 billion.

That generated a trade surplus of $2.49 billion, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement, compared with a $1.42 billion surplus in August.

South Korea is the first major economy in the region to report trade figures each month.

China and the United States combined take in two-fifths of South Korea's shipments, and electronics and autos make up about 45 percent of all exports.

In July, the Commerce Ministry lifted its export growth forecast for 2007 to 12.8 percent from 10.6 percent, compared with a 14.4 percent rise last year.

Reuters MP VP0647

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