South Korea's industrial output growth hits 4-year high

 Industrial output growth in South Korea hit the highest in about 4 years in February, indicating that the economy may resume recovery, a government report showed Tuesday.


Production in all industries, including manufacturing, services, construction and public administration, expanded 2.5 percent in February from a month earlier after falling 2 percent in January, according to Statistics Korea.

The February figure marked the biggest monthly increase since March 2011 when the industrial output jumped 4 percent.

The output swung between gains and losses, posting a 0.7 percent fall in September, a 0.4 percent rise in October, a 0.1 percent loss in November and a 1.3 percent gain in December.

The February rebound indicated the possible recovery in industrial activities, but it needs to be seen whether the recovery would continue given the fluctuation in the data.

For the first two months of this year, production in the mining and manufacturing sectors and facility investment slowed down compared with the fourth quarter of last year, hinting that the March data would more clearly show the future direction of the economy.

The Finance Ministry said that the economic recovery would show up more clearly down the road given the low oil prices and low interest rates as well as continued improvement in prices of major assets, including homes and stocks.

Production in mining and manufacturing sectors climbed 2.6 percent in February from a month earlier, rising first in two months. Output in chemical products and transport equipments declined, but car and chip production rose last month.

Inventory among manufacturers increased 2.6 percent, and the average rate of production capacity advanced 1.4 percentage points from a month earlier to 75.5 percent in February.

Production in the service industry rose 1.6 percent in February from a month earlier due to strong activity in the wholesale and retail sector and the finance and insurance industry.

Retail sales expanded 2.8 percent on-month in February, marking the largest monthly increase since August 2014. Demand for semi- durable and non-durable goods increased, offsetting a reduction in durables.

Facility investment advanced 3.6 percent on demand for auto and airline industries, and machinery orders rose 1.4 percent on an increase in auto and electrical sectors.

Construction work completed was up 4.5 percent on demand for public works and construction workers alike, but construction orders, which reflects outlook for the building industry, tumbled 17.2 percent in February.

The cyclical component of leading economic indicators, which reflects outlook for future business conditions, was up 0.6 points in February from a month ago. The figure for coincident economic indicators advanced 0.3 points, keeping an upward trend for three straight months.


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