Upbeat economic report as virus fallout looms

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Upbeat economic report as virus fallout looms

Expectations of an economic recovery grew as industrial production and facility investment rose recently, but the impact of the coronavirus epidemic in China is likely to weigh on the Korean economy, according to a government report released Friday.

The Finance Ministry said market sentiment improved as economic indicators rose and prices of memory chips, one of Korea’s key export items, posted a modest gain in January.

However, the nation’s economy is expected to face uncertainties because it is still difficult to gauge how broadly the virus, which was recently dubbed Covid-19 by the World Health Organization, will spread, the monthly economic assessment report said.

“The government will make its utmost efforts to minimize the economic impact of the virus, while putting its top priority to regain an economic recovery momentum,” the ministry said.

The report, called the “Green Book,” is based on a set of the indicators of output, exports, consumption and corporate investment, and serves as a snapshot of the economy’s performance in recent months.

Korea’s economy suffered its weakest annual growth in a decade last year, hit by a lengthy U.S.-China trade war and a cyclical slump in the memory chip sector.

Korea’s exports fell 10.3 percent on-year in 2019 to 641.9 trillion won ($542.4 billion), according to government data.

The nation’s economy is expected to grow 2.4 percent this year, following last year’s 2 percent expansion, on the back of an anticipated recovery in the memory chip sector and a series of policy measures.

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