South Korea November Industrial Output Up for 3rd Straight Month

Seoul, South Korea
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South Korean industrial output grew for a third consecutive month in November from October and at a much faster pace than expected, data showed on Friday, offering fresh evidence that Asia's fourth-largest economy is starting to pick up.

Industrial output grew by a seasonally adjusted 2.3 percent in November from the previous month following a revised 0.7 percent gain in October, Statistics Korea data showed, marking the strongest growth since January.

The median forecast in a Reuters survey of 10 analysts was for the industrial output to expand by 0.7 percent in November on a monthly basis, with forecasts ranging from a 0.3 percent drop to a 1.8 percent gain.

"I think we can say that we have entered the path to recovery," said Ma Ju-ok, an economist at Kiwoom Securities. "December numbers won't be great because of a decrease in working days, but I think we will see a steady, but slow, recovery."

Separate data released by the Bank of Korea on Friday showed that the current account surplus jumped to a record high of $6.66 billion in November on a seasonally adjusted basis as imports of production equipment fell.

The statistics agency's data also showed that capital investment in production facilities declined for the second consecutive month in November from the previous month.

On an annual basis, industrial output rose 2.9 percent in November after a revised 0.8 percent decline in October, the data showed, compared with a median 0.8 percent gain tipped by the Reuters survey.

South Korea is home to some of the world's largest manufacturers of cars, smartphones and ships, and so industrial output closely tracks export performance. In November, overseas shipments rose by 3.8 percent from a year earlier.

Friday's data also showed that the service-sector output rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in November over a month before after a revised 1.1 percent fall in October.