South Korea’s industrial activity deteriorated by the worst pace in 14 months in March, hit by sluggish sales of automobiles and softening in semiconductors that had been primary driver of Korean exports, government data showed.
According to Statistics Korea on Monday, the seasonally adjusted mining and manufacturing output in March fell 2.5 percent on month, the biggest month-on-month loss since February last year. Against a year-ago period, factory output slipped 4.5 percent.
The Korean market largely shrugged off the worsened industrial data as it remained uplifted by the inter-Korean news following the summit meeting on Friday. As of 1:24 p.m. Monday, the main Kospi was up 0.71 percent at 2510.09, and the Korean won rose 5.30 to 1,067.70 against the U.S. dollar.
Output in automobile sector contracted 3.7 percent from February due to troubles at GM Korea and poor sales of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors. Shipment of machinery fell 4.3 percent amid overall lethargy in industrial production.
Factory operation averaged at 70.3 percent, down 1.8 percentage points from a month earlier and the weakest since March 2009 following the global financial crisis. Inventory level rose 1.2 percent on month and 10.4 percent on year.
Service sector output added 0.4 percent from the previous month thanks to the increased house transactions and restaurant businesses. Wholesale and retail sectors gained 1.3 percent, but finance and insurance sectors fell 1.8 percent.
Retail sales - a barometer for private consumption - rose 2.7 percent, sustaining growth momentum for the third month due to releases of new smartphones and cars.
Capital investment tumbled 7.8 percent from a month ago, the biggest fall since July 2016.
By Kim In-oh and Lee Ha-yeon
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]