Government warns about international uncertainties

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Government warns about international uncertainties

Korea’s economy showed a solid trend of domestic spending, but investments and exports declined amid lingering uncertainties over trade disputes between the United States and China and the semiconductor business, the Finance Ministry said Friday.

Private consumption rose 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, but facility and construction investment fell 3.3 percent and 6 percent in the October-December period from the same period of 2017, respectively.

Adding to the economy’s woes, Korea’s exports slipped 5.8 percent in January from a year earlier due mainly to weaker performances by chips.

In the first month of the year, Korea shipped $7.42 billion worth of semiconductors, down 23.3 percent from a year earlier. The decline is a reminder of uncertainties in the semiconductor business.

Korea is home to Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest memory chip maker, and its smaller domestic rival SK Hynix.

Lee Ho-seung, the first vice minister of economy and finance, suggested that exports could fall in February from a year earlier due to the Lunar New Year’s holiday last week.

Consumer spending is “a positive factor, but there are concerns of a slowing global economy” amid disappointing jobs numbers, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said in its monthly economic assessment report.

The report, called the Green Book, is based on the latest economic indicators of such key factors as output, exports, consumption and corporate investment, which provide clues as to how Asia’s fourth-largest economy has been faring in recent months.

The Korean economy added just 19,000 jobs in January from a year earlier, the fewest since August last year when employers added just 3,000 positions.

Korea’s jobless rate rose to 4.5 percent in January - the highest level for any January since 2010, when the corresponding figure stood at 5 percent, according to Statistics Korea.


Yonhap

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