South Korea's industrial output contracted at the sharpest pace ever in January, adding to concerns that the nation's economy is slipping into a recession at a faster pace than expected, according to the National Statistical Office Monday.
Production in the mining and manufacturing sectors shrank 25.6 percent in January from a year earlier, compared with a revised 18.7 percent year-on-year decline in December, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The January contraction was the worst ever since related data began to be compiled in January 1970.
"The data reflect a continued economic downturn in January," the NSO said in a statement. "The decline is attributed to reduced production of semiconductors, chip parts and automobiles. Fewer working days due to the Lunar New Year holiday also contributed to the figures."
The slumping output comes as indicators show that South Korea's economy, Asia's fourth-largest, is heading for its first recession in 11 years amid collapsing exports and dwindling domestic demand.
Exports are falling sharply as recessions in the U.S., Japan and some European countries erode demand for South Korean goods. In February, overseas shipments fell around 17 percent to $25.8 billion from a year earlier, according to government data released earlier in the day.
Faltering exports caused South Korea to record its first current account deficit in four months in January, with shortfalls amounting to $1.36 billion, according to the central bank.