The Korean economy continues to recover as exports have been strong and subsequently investment is on the rise. Production and consumption rebounded due to a low base effect.
The economy added 334,000 jobs year-on-year in January, creating more than 300,000 jobs for the first time in four months, as manufacturing and construction continued to be strong. The young adult unemployment rate rose somewhat (8.6% → 8.7%, up 0.1%p, y-o-y).
Consumer price inflation in February rose 0.4 percentage points from the previous month (up 1.0%→ up 1.4%, y-o-y) as agricultural product prices rose due to a cold snap.
Industrial production rebounded in January (down 0.5%→ up 1.2%, m-o-m). Mining and manufacturing production rose (down 1.7%→ up 1.0%, m-o-m) due to strong automobiles and semiconductors. Service output improved (down 0.2%→ up 0.8%, m-o-m) backed by strong professional, scientific & technical services and transportation & logistics services.
Retail sales picked up in January (down 2.6%→ up 1.7%, m-o-m) due to strong sales of air-purifying home electronics amid rising fine dust concerns as well as due to a low base effect from the previous month when automobile sales dropped.
Facility investment increased for the third consecutive month in January (up 6.0%→ up 6.2%, m-o-m) as imports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment continued to rise. Construction completed rose for the second consecutive month (up 1.7%→ up 8.2%, m-o-m) led by new housing construction.
In January, the cyclical indicator of the coincident composite index rose 0.1 points from the previous month to 99.9, and the cyclical indicator of the leading composite index rose 0.1 points to 100.8.
Exports in February, despite fewer days worked (down 2.5 days) due to Lunar New Year’s day holidays, continued to increase for the 16th consecutive month (up 22.3%→ up 4.0%, y-o-y) backed by strong major export items, such as semiconductors, amid recovering global economies.
In February, KOSPI fell as volatility increased in the global market amid Fed’s rate hike concerns. The dollar-won exchange rate rose due to the strong dollar. Government bond yields fluctuated.
Housing prices continued to rise in February (up 0.14%→ up 0.20%, m-o-m) due to housing prices getting higher in the Seoul metropolitan area, and Jeonse (lump sum deposits with no monthly payments) prices continued to fall (down 0.05%→ down 0.09%, m-o-m) due to increased supplies as well as low seasonal demand.
The economy is expected to stay on a recovery path given improving global economies and strong exports. However, young adult unemployment has been rising, and external risks linger, such as trade issues and Fed’s interest rate hikes.
The government will strengthen its risk management, and will work to successfully implement the 2018 economic policies, focusing on helping the job market and the real economy improve.
* For further details, please refer to the attached file.