Korea's industrial output crept up in September from a year earlier, but its growth pace remained sluggish apparently affected by cooling demand amid concerns over the eurozone debt crisis and global slowdowns, a government report showed Wednesday.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries grew 0.7 percent last month from a year earlier, quickening from the previous month's 0.3 percent on-year gain.
The output also grew 0.8 percent compared with a month earlier, turning around from three consecutive months of contraction. The service sector production expanded 2.5 percent on-year in September and gained 0.7 percent from a month earlier.
"The mining, electricity and gas industries saw contractions, but the manufacturing sector posted growth," the report said.
Industrial output growth has been picking up over the past three years, but the pace has been subdued to under a single digit since July when the production growth fell to 0.2 percent from the previous month's 1.6 percent.
Output figures remain weak as demand for Korean products has been affected by the elongated global economic slowdown amid the heightened uncertainty surrounding the eurozone debt problems.
Last week, the central bank announced that the country's gross domestic product grew 0.2 percent during the third quarter from three months earlier, slowing from a 0.3 percent gain in the second quarter. This also marked the slowest growth pace in about three years.
Experts worry that things could further slow down in the months to come, given the ongoing uncertainty from the eurozone debt problems and slumping growth in major industrialized countries.
But the government hopes that the economy might have hit the bottom during the third quarter and will likely rebound starting in the fourth quarter.
Behind last month's still-sluggish-but-quickening growth in output is the manufacturing industry whose production expanded 0.7 percent from a year earlier, the report showed. More demand for semiconductors, parts and chemical products helped boost the output in the area.
The average facility utilization rate in the manufacturing industry also rebounded to 75.2 percent from 73.7 percent in August, the report showed. The August reading was the lowest since May 2009 when the rate fell to 73.6 percent.
Corporate investment logged a slight improvement, but it remained in a slump. The report showed that companies' investment on facilities dropped 8.2 percent on-year last month, compared with a 14.2 percent plunge recorded in August.
Meanwhile, consumer spending improved slightly. Retail sales, among other things, expanded 2.5 percent last month from a year earlier, rebounding from August's 0.4 percent decline, according to the report. (Yonhap)