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S. Korea's industrial output stays flat, with falling consumption, investment

South Korea's industrial output stayed flat in October due to the lackluster manufacturing industry, with consumption and investment falling, statistical office data showed Monday.

The seasonally adjusted production in all industries, which exclude the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector, was unchanged in October from the previous month, according to Statistics Korea.

The industrial production declined 0.8 percent in August before rebounding 2.2 percent in September, but it made no change last month on lower output among manufacturers.

Production in the mining and manufacturing industry reduced 1.2 percent in October from a month earlier. Output among manufacturers slipped 1.3 percent last month.

It was attributable to an export slide. The country's outbound shipment went down 3.6 percent in October from a year earlier, after increasing 7.6 percent in September.

Production of semiconductors and electronic parts diminished 9.5 percent and 2.6 percent each in October from a month ago, logging the first reduction in three months.

Output in the services industry expanded 1.2 percent last month, offsetting the downturn among manufacturers. It was the fastest growth in four months since June.

The COVID-19 resurged here in August and September forced the government to tighten its social-distancing rule for the two months and hit hardest the services industry, especially microbusinesses and mom-and-pop stores.

The social-distancing regulation was eased in October, but it was tightened again in November owing to the COVID-19 resurgence coming from small gatherings among families and acquaintances.

In October, production in the eatery and lodging sector jumped 13.3 percent compared to the prior month. Output in the leisure, arts and sports sector advanced 13.1 percent, with those in the information and communications and the transport and warehousing industries growing in single digits.

Retail sale, which reflects private consumption, shrank 0.9 percent in October from a month earlier, marking the first decline in three months.

The sale of non-durable goods, such as food and beverage, retreated 5.7 percent last month as food demand fell following the Chuseok holiday, a South Korean version of Thanksgiving Day, in September.

Consumer spending was estimated to have slumped in November as the government tightened its five-tier social-distancing guidelines to the third-highest Level 2 earlier this month amid the soaring COVID-19 cases.

In the latest tally, South Korea reported 438 more cases of COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, raising the total number of infections to 34,201. The daily caseload stayed below 500 for two straight days, but it gained in triple digits for 23 days running.

Facility investment contracted 3.3 percent in October on a monthly basis, after growing 7.6 percent in September.

Completed construction shed 0.1 percent in October from a month earlier.

The cyclical variation factor for leading economic indicators, which measures outlook for future economic situation, rose 0.4 points in October.

The reading for coincident economic indicators, which reflects the current economic conditions, gained 0.5 points last month.

Both figures continued to rise for the fifth consecutive month.

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