Broad boost in industrial activity sign of recovery

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Broad boost in industrial activity sign of recovery

Industrial activities are showing clear signs of improvement for the fourth consecutive month, cementing the nation’s economic recovery.

According to a report by Statistics Korea yesterday, overall industrial output expanded 1.4 percent in January, compared to a month earlier. For the first time in three months, all industries showed increased production.

Compared to a year earlier, January’s industrial production rose 1.2 percent.

In the manufacturing sector, the largest month-on-month growth (9.5 percent) was in the video and communications equipment industry. Automobile production shot up 6.7 percent.

Mining and manufacturing grew 0.1 percent, continuing its growth since October, despite decreased working days because of the Lunar New Year holiday.

The service sector advanced 0.9 percent compared to the previous month. The construction industry jumped 9.7 percent.

A more welcome piece of news was the largest increase in retail sales since March 2011.

Thanks to lower consumption taxes, retail sales rose 2.4 percent in January compared to December.

Sales of durable goods like vehicles surged 9.8 percent, while nondurable goods like food and beverages climbed 2.5 percent.

Sales at large retailers were up 4.4 percent, while department store sales slid 2.6 percent.

With a goal of reaching 3.9 percent GDP growth this year, the government plans an all-out effort to revive the domestic market.

Facility investment, however, dipped 4.5 percent in January compared to December, mainly in the machinery industry. Compared to January 2013, facility investment was 1.7 percent lower.

“January industrial activities clearly showed production and consumption both expanded, a strong sign of economic recovery,” said Lee Hyung-il, a director at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. “We need to wait for February indicators to judge whether or not this recovery is becoming solid.”

Hyun Oh-seok, deputy prime minister and finance minister, confirmed the economy is on a recovery path.

“The current economic recovery is spreading across all industries,” Hyun said yesterday at a meeting with chief executives hosted by the Korea International Trade Association at a hotel in southern Seoul.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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