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Foreign investment banks raise 2021 growth outlook for S.Korea

Top foreign investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and HSBC, have upgraded South Korea’s growth outlook for this year to an average 3.4 percent, up by 0.1 percentage point from their previous estimate, a report released by the Korea Center for International Finance showed Thursday. 

By end-December, two of nine investment banks surveyed in the report -- Credit Suisse and HSBC -- had revised their outlook upward by 0.7 percentage point and 0.5 percentage point to 3.6 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, in the cited period. 

Two of nine investment banks surveyed in the report--Credit Suisse and HSBC-- have revised their outlook upward by 0.7 percentage point and 0.5 percentage point to 3.6 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively in the cited period.

Others -- Barclays, BoA-Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Nomura Securities and UBS -- have retained their previous projections ranging from 3 percent to 4.1 percent. Among them, UBS retained the rosiest outlook of 4.1 percent.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance recently forecast a 3.2 percent growth for this year, while the Bank of Korea announced a slightly grimmer outlook of 3 percent.

The nine global investment banks also kept the 2020 growth figure for Asia’s fourth-largest economy at minus 1.1 percent. The Korean government, in late December, has forecast a similar contraction for the nation’s 2020 growth, but took a cautious step, saying then the economy would contract within the “1 percent range.” Its previous figure was a solid minus 1.1 percent, hinting the government’s concerns of the third wave of the coronavirus that began sweeping across the nation in December.

The average 2021 outlook for the global economy stood at 5.7 percent, remaining flat from the previous forecast. The corresponding figure for 2020, however, slightly grew to minus 3.7 percent from the previous minus 3.8 percent, while the outlook for 2022 came to 4.2 percent.

By nation, the US economy would see a 4.4 percent growth this year, while the EU, China and Japan would each see 4.8 percent, 8.4 percent and 3 percent growth in the same period, the investment banks predicted, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the average growth forecast by seven out of the nine investment banks for 2022 came to 2.8 percent with UBS again rolling out the most optimistic outlook of 3.8 percent. BoA-Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse have yet to announce their 2022 forecast for Korea, the report showed.

By Jung Min-kyung (