Thursday May 11 2017
South Korea Jobless Rate Up To 4.0% In April
Statistics Korea | Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

South Korea’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 4.0 percent in April of 2017 from 3.7 percent in March.

The number of unemployed persons went up by 75 thousand to 1,098 thousand and employment went down by 111 thousand to 26,511 thousand people.

A year ago, the jobless rate was 3.7 percent.

On an unadjusted basis, the unemployment rate stood at 4.2 percent. The labor force participation rate rose to 63.5 percent from 62.8 percent. 




Monday May 01 2017
South Korea Annual Inflation Returns To Target
Mario | mario@tradingeconomics.com

South Korea’s inflation rate slowed to 1.9 percent in April of 2017 from 2.2 percent in the previous month, slightly below expectations of 2.0 percent. The inflation rate returned to the central bank target of 2.0 percent after surpassing it in March for the second time in 4.5 years. The result was mainly explained by softer growth in prices of food & beverages and transport. On a monthly basis, consumer prices decreased by 0.1 percent.

Prices increased at a softer pace for food & non-alcoholic beverages (2.6 percent from 3.5 percent in March), clothing & footwear (0.2 percent from 1.2 percent), health (0.7 percent from 1.1 percent), furnishings & household equipment (0.9 percent from 1.0 percent), transport (5.4 percent from 6.4 percent), restaurants & hotels (2.2 percent from 2.3 percent), and miscellaneous goods & services (2.5 percent from 2.8 percent). Also, communication prices decreased 0.3 percent after rising by 0.2 percent in the previous month.

In contrast, prices increased at a faster pace for liquor & tobacco (1.5 percent from 1.4 percent in March) and recreation & culture (1.9 percent from 1.0 percent).

Meanwhile, inflation rate was steady at 1.1 percent for utilities and at 1.3 for education. 

On a monthly basis, consumer prices retreated 0.1 percent after remaining unchanged in March.




Monday May 01 2017
South Korea Posts Largest Trade Surplus On Record In April
Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

South Korea's trade surplus rose to USD 13.25 billion in April of 2017 from USD 8.70 billion a year earlier. It was the largest trade surplus on record, as exports increased more than imports, preliminary data showed

Year-on-year, sales  surged 24.2 percent from a year earlier to USD 51.01 billion, following a 13.7 percent in the prior month. It was the sixth straight month of growth and the fastest in almost six years, due to a surge in the exports of semi-conductors (56.9 percent) and ships (102.9 percent). Sales also rose for petroleum products (25.6 percent), vehicles (11.6 percent) and flat screens (10.2 percent). In contrast, exports declined for wireless devices (-12.8 percet) and autoparts (-10.4 percent)

Exports to China rose 10.2 percent, marking a double digit growth for a fourth month in a row. Meantime, outbound shipments to the EU countries jumped 64.9 percent, the most since early 2011. Also, sales to Japan (23.8 percent) and the US went up by 3.9 percent.

Imports rose 16.6 percent to USD 37.75 billion, compared to a 26.9 percent gain but below forecast of a 21.0 percent rise.

In March 2017, the trade surplus was downwardly revised to USD 6.27 billion.

For 2017, exports are expected to increase 2.9 percent, supported by improving global demand, while imports are projected to grow at a faster 7.2 percent. 

The trade balance has been in consistent surpluses since February 2012.




Wednesday April 26 2017
South Korea GDP Expands 0.9% In Q1
Mario | mario@tradingeconomics.com

The South Korean economy expanded 0.9 percent on quarter in the first three months of 2017, beating estimates of a 0.7 percent growth. The preliminary print outpaced tandem 0.5 percent expansions in the previous two quarters and is the highest since the second quarter of 2016. Faster growth was explained by improvements in all supply-side components excluding a slight downtick in services, and by a softer decline in utilities.

On the supply side, services edged up 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2017, growing less than the 0.2 percent in the last three months of 2016. Contrastingly, construction grew further in Q1 (4.0 percent vs 1.3 percent in the previous period). Manufacturing also gained steam in the first three months of 2017, growing 2.0 percent after expanding 1.8 percent in the previous quarter. Meanwhile, agriculture rebounded in Q1, rising 6.4 percent after contracting 1.8 percent in the previous three months. As for utilities, the 2.2 percent fall was softer than the preceding 3.0 percent decline.

On the expenditure side, private consumption expanded 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017 (compared to 0.2 percent in the previous quarter). Government spending grew at a softer pace of 0.5 percent (from 0.6 percent). Meanwhile, gross fixed capital formation expanded 4.0 percent following a 1.0 percent increase in the preceding quarter. Exports rebounded by 1.9 percent after a slight 0.1 percent contraction in the previous three months. Imports also rebounded markedly, increasing by 4.3 percent after also contracting 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2016.

Year-on-year, the economy advanced 2.7 percent, also outpacing forecasts of a 2.6 percent expansion and above the 2.4 percent growth of the previous quarter.




Wednesday April 26 2017
South Korea Annual GDP Growth Beats Forecasts In Q1
Mario | mario@tradingeconomics.com

The South Korean economy expanded 2.7 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2017, beating expectations of a 2.6 percent expansion and outpacing growth for the previous quarter (2.4 percent). It was the highest print in three quarters. Accelerating GDP was mainly explained by further growth in manufacturing, which more than compensated slower growth in services and contraction in utilities.

Manufacturing went up 4.4 percent, above the 2.3 percent in the previous quarter and significantly outpacing the 2.3 percent annual growth for the whole 2016 and the 1.8 percent expansion for 2015.

Construction gained some steam in the first quarter (10.8 percent from 10.5 percent), expanding at the fastest pace since the second quarter of 2016. Meanwhile, the decline in agriculture was less pronounced this quarter (-2.0 percent compared to -2.9 percent in the preceding period). Contrastingly, utilities plunged 2.0 percent after growing 3.6 percent in the previous quarter. 

On a quarterly basis, the economy expanded 0.9 percent, also above estimates of 0.7 percent growth and outpacing the 0.5 percent increase for the last three months of 2016.




Thursday April 13 2017
South Korea Keeps Key Rate Steady At 1.25%
Bank of Korea | Chusnul Ch Manan | chusnul@tradingeconomics.com

The central bank of South Korea left its base rate steady for the ninth straight meeting at a record low of 1.25 percent in April, as expected, saying inflationary pressures on the demand side are not expected to be high given the moderate pace of domestic economic growth. Policymakers also revised growth forecasts for this year to 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent. Inflation is expected to be higher at 1.9 percent from 1.8 percent.

Excerpts from the statement by The Bank of Korea:

The Monetary Policy Board of the Bank of Korea decided today to leave the Base Rate unchanged at 1.25% for the intermeeting period. Based on currently available information the Board considers that the global economic recovery has continued to expand. The global financial markets have shown generally stable movements, with the trend of rising stock prices continuing for example. 

The Board judges that the trend of domestic economic growth has expanded somewhat, as exports and investment have improved although consumption has remained low. The Board sees the domestic economy as likely to continue its trend of moderate growth going forward, and forecasts a rate of GDP growth for this year slightly above the January projection (2.5%). 

However, the paces of improvement in exports and domestic demand activities are expected to be limited, owing to changes in conditions related to trade with major countries and to the weak improvement in households’ real purchasing power. Consumer price inflation has continued at the 2% target level, in line mainly with increases in the prices of petroleum and agricultural, livestock and fisheries products. Core inflation (with food and energy product prices excluded from the CPI) has remained in the mid- to upper-1% range, while the rate of inflation expected by the general public has fallen to the mid-2% level. Looking ahead the Board expects that consumer price inflation will for the time being fluctuate at the 2% level, and for the year as a whole slightly exceed the January projection (1.8%). Core inflation will maintain a level in the mid- to upper-1% range.

Looking ahead, the Board will conduct monetary policy so as to ensure that the recovery of economic growth continues and consumer price inflation can be stabilized at the target level over a medium-term horizon, while paying attention to financial stability. As the inflationary pressures on the demand side are not expected to be high given the moderate pace of domestic economic growth, the Board will maintain its stance of monetary policy accommodation. In this process it will closely monitor conditions related to trade with major countries, geopolitical risks, the progress of monetary policy normalization by the US Federal Reserve, and the trend of increase in household debt.




Wednesday April 12 2017
South Korea Jobless Rate Falls To 3.7% In March
Statistics Korea l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

South Korea’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.7 percent in March of 2017 from 4.0 percent in February.

The number of unemployed persons fell by 85 thousand to 1,023 thousand and employment went up by 81 thousand to 26,622 thousand people. 

A year ago, the jobless rate was 3.8 percent.

On an unadjusted basis, the unemployment rate stood at 4.2 percent. The labour force went up by 454 thousand.  


Tuesday April 04 2017
South Korea Annual Inflation At Near 5-Year High
Mario | mario@tradingeconomics.com

South Korea inflation rate rose to 2.2 percent in March of 2017 from 1.9 percent in the previous month. It was the highest annual rate since June of 2012 and outpaced expectations at 2.0 percent. The inflation rate surpassed the central bank target of 2 percent for the second time in 4.5 years.

Prices increased at a faster pace for food & non-alcoholic beverages (3.5 from 2.9 percent in February), clothing & footwear (1.2 percent from 1.1 percent), furnishings & household equipment (1.0 percent from 0.4 percent), and transport (6.4 percent from 6.0 percent). Prices of utilities rose at a 1.1 percent pace following no change in the previous month.

In contrast, prices increased at a softer pace for communication (0.2 percent from 0.8 percent in February), miscellaneous goods & services (2.8 percent from 3.1 percent), health (1.1 percent from 1.2 percent), and recreation & culture (1.0 percent from 1.1 percent).

Meanwhile, prices rose at the same pace for liquor & tobacco (1.4 percent), education (1.3 percent), and restaurants & hotels (2.3 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices remained unchanged following a 0.3 percent rise in February.


Saturday April 01 2017
South Korea Trade Surplus Narrows In March
Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

South Korea's trade surplus fell to USD 6.55 billion in March of 2017 from USD 9.68 billion surplus a year earlier, as exports rose less than imports, preliminary data showed.

Year-on-year, sales grew by 13.7 percent to USD 48.88 billion, compared to a 20.2 percent rise in February while market expected a 13.0 percent gain. It was the fifth straight month of increase, mainly due to higher sales of petroleum products (+63.3 percent), flat screens (19.5 percent), machinery (17.6 percent), cosmetics (14.2 percent) and automobiles (4.1 percent). In contrast, outbound shipments dropped for wireless devices (-26.4 percent), reflecting the fallout from the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 phablet.

Exports to China rose 12.1 percent, marking the fifth consecutive month of growth. In contrast, outbound shipments to the US fell 5.3 percent, followed by those to the EU countries (-8.7 percent). 

Imports jumped 26.9 percent to USD 42.32 billion, faster than a 23.3 percent rise in the prior month and above consensus of a 23.7 percent growth. It was the strongest increase since September 2011.

In February 2017, trade surplus was downwardly revised to USD 7.06 billion.

For 2017, exports are expected to rise 2.9 percent, supported by improving global demand, while imports are projected to grow at a faster 7.2 percent. 

The trade balance has been in consistent surpluses since February 2012.


Tuesday March 28 2017
South Korea GDP Growth Revised Up To 0.5% QoQ in Q4
Mario | mario@tradingeconomics.com

The South Korean economy expanded 0.5 percent on quarter in the last three months of 2016, beating preliminary estimates of a 0.4 percent growth. The final print mimicked the 0.5 percent expansion in Q3 as construction and services rose faster than anticipated, final figures showed.

Services edged up 0.2 percent, compared to a flat reading in the preliminary estimate (0.6 percent in Q3); construction rose 1.3 percent, above 0.5 percent in the preliminary figures (2.3 percent in Q3) and manufacturing went up 1.8 percent, matching initial estimates (-0.4 percent in Q3). In addition, utilities fell 3 percent, compared to a 4.3 percent drop initially estimated (+3.4 percent in Q3) and agriculture declined 1.8 percent, less than a 2.8 percent drop in the preliminary estimates (-1.9 percent in Q3). 

On the expenditure side, private consumption expanded 0.2 percent, the same as in earlier estimates (0.6 percent in Q3) while public spending rose at a slightly faster 0.6 percent compared to a preliminary of 0.5 percent (0.9 percent in Q3). Gross fixed capital formation went up 1 percent, above a preliminary of 0.8 percent (1.5 percent in Q3). Exports contracted 0.1 percent, matching preliminary figures (+1 percent in Q3) while imports edged down 0.1 percent, compared to preliminary estimates of a 0.2 percent gain (+2.6 percent in Q3). 

Year-on-year, the economy advanced 2.4 percent, also above 2.3 percent in the first figures but below 2.6 percent in the previous quarter. Considering full 2016, GDP growth was revised up to 2.8 percent from 2.7 percent and slightly above the central bank growth target of 2.7 percent. In 2015, the economy advanced 2.8 percent.