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S. Korea sees key industrial indexes rise in August

Premature to assume recovery trend of economy: official

South Korea saw its production, consumption and investment rise last month, on the back of the launch of Samsung’s flagship smartphones and increased imports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, government data showed Monday.

This marked the first time in five months that all three industrial indexes climbed simultaneously but also came amid stalled exports and mounting external uncertainties.

According to monthly industrial figures compiled by Statistics Korea, the industrial production for August rose 0.5 percent from the previous month. The index excluded the agricultural and fisheries sectors, which are sensitive to seasonal changes. 

Kim Bo-kyoung, director of Statistics Korea’s industry statistics division. (Yonhap)
Kim Bo-kyoung, director of Statistics Korea’s industry statistics division. (Yonhap)

After declining for two consecutive months in May-June, the on-month figure took an upturn in July, up 1.5 percent from the previous month.

In the manufacturing sector, telecommunications and broadcasting equipment marked a production rise of 53.2 percent but was partly offset by the 4.6 percent fall in the automobile sector and 5.9 percent drop in the rubber and plastic industry.

The chip business gained momentum due to the successful launch of new smartphone models, including Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10. Semiconductor production went up 0.2 percent from the previous month and 12.2 percent from the same period last year.

While the general manufacturing inventory level went down 1.7 percent from a month earlier, semiconductors saw a 7 percent fall in inventory and 14.6 percent rise in shipments, reflecting the vitality of the market.

Production in the service sectors was also observed to rise 1.2 percent on-month, mostly in retail and finance.

“The hike in retail sales is due to the increased purchases of passenger vehicles and the demand for gifts around the Chuseok holiday,” said Kim Bo-kyoung, director of Statistics Korea’s industry statistics division.

The cyclical component of the coincident composite index -- which reflects the current trend of the economy -- rose 0.2 percent in August from a month earlier. The leading index, on the other hand, dropped 0.1 percent during the same period.

“We cannot yet say that (the economy) has taken an upturn, as no clear signs of economic recovery are detected in key leading indexes,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, the country’s exports totaled $44.2 billion in August, down 13.6 percent from the same period last year, according to data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Data from the World Trade Organization also showed that Asia’s fourth-largest economy’s exports came to $138.6 billion during the second quarter this year, down 8.6 percent from a year earlier, which marked the second-steepest fall among the Group of 20 member states.

By Bae Hyun-jung (