The Korean economy has stayed on a recovery path backed by an improvement in mining and manufacturing as well as in construction. However, facility investment and consumption fell in April.
The economy added 123,000 jobs year-on-year in April led by the service sector. Job markets remained weak due to the struggling manufacturing sector and a high base effect from a year ago. Young adult unemployment fell somewhat (11.2% → 10.7%, down 0.5%p, y-o-y).
Consumer price inflation in May fell 0.1 percentage points from the previous month (up 1.6%→ up 1.5%, y-o-y), despite high oil product prices, as livestock product prices have become stable and public service prices have been kept low.
Industrial production rose in April (down 0.9% → up 1.5%, m-o-m): Mining and manufacturing production improved (down 2.2% → up 3.4, m-o-m) due to strong semiconductors and automobiles.
Service output stayed unchanged (up 0.4% → 0.0%, m-o-m): Financial & insurance services improved along with transportation & storage services, while wholesale & retail fell.
Retail sales fell in April (up 2.9%→ down 1.0%, m-o-m): The sales of nondurable goods increased, and the sales of semi-durable goods fell.
Facility investment continued to fall in April (down 7.8% → down 3.3%, m-o-m), despite an improvement in machinery, as transportation equipment plummeted. Construction completed rose (down 3.3% → up 4.4%, m-o-m), despite a slowdown in civil engineering works, as building construction improved.
In April, the cyclical indicator of the coincident composite index fell 0.1 points to 99.7, and the cyclical indicator of the leading composite index fell 0.4 points to 100.0.
Exports exceeded US $50 billion for the third consecutive month in May due to strong petroleum products and semiconductors.
In May, KOSPI fell amid worries over political uncertainties in Italy, despite expectations for positive impacts on the economy of the talks between the leaders of the US and North. The dollar-won exchange rate increased as inflationary pressures rose in the US. Government bond yields fell.
Housing prices fell in May (up 0.06%→ down 0.03%, m-o-m), led by houses outside the Seoul metropolitan area, and Jeonse (lump-sum deposits with no monthly payments) prices continued to fall (down 0.19%→ down 0.28%, m-o-m), led by southern districts of Seoul.
The economy is expected to continue to recover given improving global economies and recovering investor confidence, as well as expectations for eased geopolitical risks on the Korean Peninsula. However, job markets have yet to recover and external risks linger, such as Fed’s interest rate hikes.
The government will strengthen its risk management, and will continue to work to improve the job market and the real economy by successfully implementing the 2018 economic policies and the recent measures aimed at increasing young adult jobs.
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