The Korean economy has stayed on a recovery path backed by strong exports and consumption, but investment is slowing down and uncertainties are increasing amid trade conflicts between the US and China.
The economy added 3,000 jobs year-on-year in August led by construction jobs. Manufacturing jobs and service jobs fell. Young adult unemployment rose (9.4%→ 10.0%, up 0.6%p, y-o-y).
Consumer price inflation rose 1.4 percent year-on-year in August. Consumer prices stayed stable (up 1.5% → up 1.4%, y-o-y, compared with a month ago) due to electricity rate cuts, despite high prices of fruit and vegetables amid the heatwave.
All industry production rose in July (down 0.7%→ up 0.5%, m-o-m): Mining and manufacturing production rose (down 0.7%→ up 0.4, m-o-m) due to an improvement in other transportation equipment, chemical products and mechanical equipment. Service output stayed flat (up 0.1%→ 0.0%, m-o-m) as strong professional, scientific and technical services was offset by weak financial and insurance services.
Retail sales rose in July (up 0.7%→ up 0.5%, m-o-m) as the sales of durable goods, semi-durable goods and nondurable goods all improved.
Facility investment continued to fall in July (down 7.1%→ down 0.6%, m-o-m) as machinery investment declined. Construction completed went down (down 4.0%→ down 0.1%, m-o-m), despite an improvement in civil engineering works, as building construction declined.
In July, the cyclical indicator of the coincident composite index fell 0.3 points to 99.1, and the cyclical indicator of the leading composite index fell 0.2 points to 99.8.
Exports rose 8.2 percent year-on-year in August, posting US $51.2 billion, backed by strong petroleum products, steel and semiconductors. Average daily exports rose for four months in a row.
In August KOSPI rose amid growing expectations that regulations on biological industries would be eased. The dollar-won exchange rate fell after the US-Mexico trade deal to revise NAFTA, despite financial market volatility in emerging economies, as the deal led to falling demand for safer assets. Government bond yields fell.
Housing prices rose in August (down 0.02%→ up 0.02%, m-o-m) due to price hikes in the Seoul metropolitan area, and Jeonse (lump-sum deposits with no monthly payments) prices continued to fall across the country (down 0.21%→ down 0.20%, m-o-m).
The economy is expected to continue to recover given improving global economies and strong exports, but job markets are weak and there are external risks, such as US-China trade conflicts, Fed’s rate hikes and high oil prices.
The government will strengthen its risk management, boost the economy through increased fiscal spending, and increase support for low-income households and small merchants, as well as assist job creation through policies to promote new technologies and industries.
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