Economic Bulletin April 2018
The Green Book: Current Economic Trends
The Korean economy continues to recover as strong exports have led to improvement in mining and manufacturing production, consumption and facility investment.
The economy added 112,000 jobs year-on-year in March led by manufacturing and construction, and as the service sector turned to an increase. Young adult unemployment continued to rise (11.3% → 11.6%, up 0.3%p, y-o-y).
Consumer price inflation was 1.3 percent in March, rising slowly compared with the previous month (up 1.4% → up 1.3%, y-o-y), due to low agricultural product prices and public utility rates, as well as steady petroleum product prices.
Industrial production stayed flat in February (up 1.2% → 0.0%, m-o-m). Mining and manufacturing production rose for the second consecutive month (up 0.9%→ up 1.1%, m-o-m) due to strong automobiles and semiconductors. Service output stayed unchanged (up 0.8%→ 0.0%, m-o-m): Wholesale & retail and healthcare & social welfare services grew, and transportation & storage services declined.
Retail sales rose 1.0 percent in February (up 1.3%→ up 1.0%, m-o-m) as the sales of semi-durable goods and nondurable goods increased.
Facility investment increased for the fourth consecutive month in February (up 5.4%→ up 1.3%, m-o-m) backed by strong transportation equipment. Construction completed fell (up 8.1%→ down 3.8%, m-o-m), despite a rise in civil construction works, as building construction declined.
In February, 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 fell 0.2 points to 100.6.
Exports increased 6.1 percent from the previous month in March (up 3.9%→ up 6.1%, y-o-y), rising for the 17th consecutive month, backed by strong major export items, such as semiconductors, amid recovering global economies.
In March, KOSPI had been volatile as concerns escalated over the North risk and US’s protectionist stance, but ended the month higher. The dollar-won exchange rate fell as concerns over the North risk eased. Government bond yields fell, despite the Fed’s rate hike, as demand for safe assets increased amid growing concerns over trade conflicts between the US and China.
Housing prices rose at a slower rate in March (up 0.20%→ up 0.12%, m-o-m) as housing prices stabilized in the Seoul metropolitan area, and Jeonse (lump sum deposits with no monthly payments) prices continued to fall (down 0.09%→ down 0.13%, m-o-m).
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 continue to work to improve the job market and the real economy through, along with the 2018 economic policies, its recent measures aimed at increasing young adult jobs and stimulating the local economy.
Economic News Briefing
- Government draws up supplementary budget to support young adult employment and stimulate local economies
- Inbound FDI up 28.1% in Q1 2018
- Government to work on the revival of shipbuilding and shipping industries
- Korea grows 3.1% in 2017 (preliminary)
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