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Industrial output rises for 3rd month amid weak investment in January

By Yonhap

Published : March 4, 2024 - 09:48

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This photo shows a port in the southern city of Busan on Feb. 13, 2024. (Yonhap) This photo shows a port in the southern city of Busan on Feb. 13, 2024. (Yonhap)

South Korea's industrial output rose for the third consecutive month in January despite the marked fall in semiconductor production, data showed Monday.

Retail sales also gathered ground for the second month, while facility investment and construction orders tumbled amid weak domestic demand, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

Industrial output gained 0.4 percent on-month in January, following a 0.3 percent increase in November last year and 0.4 percent growth in December.

It marks the first time in two years that industrial output rose for three months in a row.

But the output in the overall mining manufacturing sector shed 1.3 percent, driven by an 8.6 percent on-month fall in chip production.

It was the first on-month fall in the semiconductor output since October last year, which was attributable to a high base effect and seasonal factors, officials said.

The semiconductor industry has seen a gradual recovery of global demand since late last year after the monthslong downcycle.

The production in communication and broadcasting equipment surged 46.8 percent on the back of the release of Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy S24 series in January, among other factors.

Production in the construction sector jumped 12.4 percent in January, the sharpest increase since December 2011. It also was the first on-month rise in four months.

The output in the service sector inched up 0.1 percent in January, the data showed.

Compared with a year earlier, industrial output climbed 7.3 percent in January as that of semiconductors surged 44.1 percent.

Retail sales, a gauge of private spending, advanced 0.8 percent on-month in January, the second monthly increase, on growing sales of food, cosmetics and other non-durable goods.

On an on-year basis, however, retail sales shed 3.4 percent.

Facility investment tumbled 5.6 percent in January from the previous month, while construction investment jumped 12.4 percent on-month.

Construction orders sank 53.6 percent on-year, the largest decline in more than 13 years, indicating that the construction sector could further slow down.

"Industrial output has been growing on rising exports, and retail sales have fared well. But the economy is facing such downside risks as high interest rates and inflation, the weak construction sector and global geopolitical instabilities," a finance ministry official said.

"The government will closely monitor indices of production and domestic demand and prioritize measures to revive private spending, investment and other weak fields." (Yonhap)