The South Korean economy has been on a modest recovery path thanks to brisk exports and investment despite a slight downturn in industrial output, a state-run think tank said Thursday.
"The Korean economy maintained a moderate improvement led by exports and investment demand, although industrial output growth moderated slightly," the Korea Development Institute said in its monthly evaluation of the country's economic conditions.
Triggered by an upturn in global trade, Asia's fourth-largest economy saw its exports rise for seven straight month through May.
South Korea's outbound shipments jumped 13.4 percent last month from a year earlier, buoyed by a 63.3 percent surge in exports of semiconductors and 36.5 percent rise in steel exports.
The brisk overseas sales of chips also led to a favorable growth in facility investment, which gained 14.1 percent on-year in April, while imports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment shot up 561 percent in May.
However, the booming exports and investment were partly offset by a downbeat growth pace in manufacturing output.
All industry production for April posted a 3.5 percent growth, slowing from a 4.1 percent rise in the previous month, due to decreased output in the manufacturing sector. The manufacturing capacity utilization rate fell to 71.7 percent in April from 72.8 percent set in March.
"Growth in manufacturing production slowed, indicating a slight adjustment in the recovery pace from the rapid acceleration seen since the fourth quarter of 2016," the KDI report said.
Also, private consumption has been sluggish for months, despite a slight upturn in consumer sentiment, the report added.
The retail sales index rose 2.8 percent on-year in April, compared with a 4.3 percent gain in the same month last year, while May's composite consumer sentiment index rose to 108 from the previous month's 101.2. (Yonhap)