South Korea's industrial output backtracked in April from a month earlier due to the decline in the production of chips and cars, government data showed Wednesday.
Production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries fell 2.2 percent on-month in April, retreating from a 1.2 percent on-month gain in the previous month, according to the data by Statistics Korea.
From a year earlier, the figure rose 1.7 percent on-year in April on the back of a sharp output increase in the machinery and electronic parts sectors.
Production in the service sector edged up 0.1 percent last month from a month earlier, with a 2.5 percent on-year rise.
Retail sales climbed 0.7 last month compared with the previous month but posted a 2.8 percent jump from a year earlier.
For all industries, output decreased 1 percent in April from a month earlier and advanced 3.5 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
The monthly decline in industrial output came as the semiconductor and automobile businesses, which have been on a roll for months, showed sluggish performance last month.
Production of chips fell 9.2 percent last month vis-a-vis March, while their shipments also decreased 9.1 percent.
At the same time, local carmakers saw their production and shipments decrease 2.6 percent and 3.9 percent from a month earlier, respectively.
Both sectors have been the main contributors for the country's export growth that has been moving up for six straight months since November last year. The growth has been triggered by an overall recovery in global demand.
Investment was also in negative territory in April as facility investment retreated 4 percent on-month due to a drop in machinery and transportation equipment sectors.
However, the statistics office said the monthly downturn is a one-off phenomenon as the numbers of the previous month were too high. In March, industrial output rose 1.2 percent on-month, with the figures for all industries gaining 1.3 percent from a month ago.
"Industrial output in March was very good, accelerating the recovery trend in the economy. This dragged down the on-month growth in April as there was a high base effect," said Eo Woon-sun, director of the short-term industrial statistics division at Statistics Korea. "It doesn't mean that the South Korean economy fell out of the upside cycle."
He noted that consumption is looking bright as the seasonally adjusted retail sales index reached 122.6, marking the highest number since the Statistics Korea started to compile such data in 1995.
"Consumer sentiment has been getting better thanks to improved exports and eased political concerns," the statistics official said. "The latest data showed that such improved sentiment leads to actual consumption."
Separate data showed that the composite consumer sentiment index for May came to a three-year high of 108, up from 101.2, a month earlier. A reading above 100 means optimists outnumber pessimists. (Yonhap)
Lee Sung-won email@example.com
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