POLL-S.Korean economy seen returning to growth in Q3 but virus worries remain

* reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/econ-polls?RIC=KRGDPA%3DECI GDP poll data

* Q3 GDP seen +1.7% s/adj q/q, -1.9% y/y - Reuters poll

* Advance data due at 8 am local Tuesday (2300 GMT Monday)

SEOUL, Oct 23 (Reuters) - South Korean economy likely returned to growth in the third quarter, after plunging into a recession in the previous quarter, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, due to a lower base, virus-related fiscal stimulus and a gradual recovery in exports.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy is estimated to have expanded by a seasonally adjusted 1.7% in sequential terms during the July-September period, according to a median forecast of 12 economists polled by Reuters.

It would be the fastest quarterly growth since the second quarter of 2010. The previous quarter had seen a 3.2% fall - the sharpest contraction since 1998.

The expectations come on the heels of the government rolling out around 310 trillion won ($273.57 billion) worth of stimulus, including four supplementary budgets, and ample monetary easing.

“The government spending led the third-quarter growth, with a rebound in exports and improved consumption on stabilising COVID-19 situation likely contributing to the growth,” said Park Sang-hyun, Hi Investment & Securities’ chief economist.

Government data showed the country’s exports rose for the first time in seven months in September.

But, many economists expect the rebound to be temporary.

“The fourth-quarter GDP is most likely to slow down due to resurgence in coronavirus infections in Europe and the United States, with U.S. election uncertainties persisting,” said Eugene Investment & Securities’ chief economist Lee Sang-jae.

Rising infections at home is another risk, with South Korea on Friday reporting its highest jump in daily cases since mid-September.

On a year-on-year basis, GDP likely shrank 1.9% in the September quarter, slower than a 2.7% contraction in the June quarter.

Last week, the Bank of Korea governor said the economy currently was on track to meet the bank’s forecast for a 1.3% contraction this year, which would be the biggest since the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

$1 = 1,133.1600 won Editing by Uttaresh.V