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Industrial output grows 8.3%

Korea’s industrial output kept growing for the 23rd straight month in May, raising hopes the nation’s economic recovery is gaining momentum, a government report showed Thursday.

According to the report by Statistics Korea, production in the mining and manufacturing industries expanded 8.3 percent last month from a year earlier, quickening from 6.9 percent growth in April.

On-year production has expanded since July 2009. The May output also rose 1.7 percent from a month earlier, a turnaround from a revised 1.7 percent shrinkage in April, the report showed.

“Despite sluggish readings in non-metal products and visual, audio and communications equipment, output continued to grow thanks to increases in the semiconductors, parts and machinery equipment sectors,” the report explained.

The May readings come as South Korea’s economy remained on the recovery track, boosted by strong exports.

The government has been pushing to achieve 5 percent economic growth this year while stabilizing inflation at around 3 percent.

But growing inflationary pressure is still feared to weigh on the economy by dampening consumer spending.

The debt crisis in Europe, protracted unrest in Arab countries and the devastating earthquake that hit Japan are also cited as possible risk factors for the nation’s export-driven economy.

The report, however, showed that the outlooks for economic situations appear to be improving.

The leading economic composite index, a gauge of economic performance eight to 15 months ahead of time, gained 0.2 percentage points from a month earlier, the report showed.

The index measuring the current economic conditions also rose 0.3 percentage points from a month earlier. This marked the first time in four months that the two major indicators for current and future economic outlooks both improved.

Consumers and companies expanded their spending last month, brightening hopes that domestic demand might be rebounding.

Sales of consumer goods rose 1 percent from a year earlier. Facility investment jumped 10.5 percent from a year earlier thanks to expanded spending on machinery and transportation equipment, the report showed. From a year earlier, corporate investment rose 14.1 percent.

The factory operating rate rose as well. The nation’s manufacturing plants operated at 81.4 percent of capacity last month, up 1 percentage point from a month earlier, according to the report. 

(Yonhap News)
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