South Korea's industrial output edged down in July as weak exports dented demand for electronic parts and machinery and equipment, a government report showed Monday.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries backtracked 0.5 percent last month from June. The decrease comes just a month after production figures rebounded 2.5 percent in June, following three straight months of minus growth from March through May.
Compared with a year earlier, industrial production was down 3.3 percent.
"Weak exports had a direct impact on the output of electronic parts, and equipment that go into ships, as well as a wide range of industrial goods, that offset solid gains in production of autos and miscellaneous transportation products," said Jeon Baek-geun, director of the short-term industrial statistics division.
In July, exports from Asia's fourth-largest economy contracted 3.4 percent on year to $46.57 billion. This is a 0.1 percent fall from the month before.
The official said that automobile production rose 4.9 percent last month from June.
Production in the service sector, a key part of the economy, on the other hand, expanded 1.7 percent from June and rose 2.2 percent from a year earlier, the report showed.
"There is a clear indication that the fallout of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome receded in July, with local eateries and lodging businesses posting 6.9 percent gains compared with the month before," Jeon said.
MERS, first confirmed on May 20, killed 36 people out of 186 infected. No new cases of the respiratory illness have been confirmed since July 4.
The statistical agency also said the financial sectors, including insurance, did well by moving up 2 percent in July, which contributed to the overall gain for the service sector as a whole.
For all industries, output rose 0.5 percent from the previous month and inched up 0.2 percent vis-a-vis a year earlier. The increase marks the second month in a row that overall industrial output rose compared with the previous month. In June, numbers advanced 0.6 percent from minus 0.6 percent tallied in May.
The statistical agency said that while mining and manufacturing lost ground on-month in July the service sector did well, along with the construction field.
Domestic sales that directly impact the service sector rose 1.9 percent on-month, with construction gaining 0.8 percent.
Facility investment rose 1.3 percent on-month in July and jumped 6.9 percent from a year earlier on the strength of funds being poured into automobiles and specialized industrial equipment, it said.
The finance ministry said that while mining and manufacturing output that shot up in June experienced some adjustments last month, overall production numbers showed the country gradually overcoming MERS, which had crippled domestic consumption.
"Domestic spending, facility investments and investments going into construction all advanced for the second month in a row," the ministry said. "There was a steady rise in sales at large retail outlets, along with a spike in orders for machinery that all can lead to growth down the line."
The ministry, however, said that external uncertainties, like China's stock market crash and general weakening of trade, can affect South Korea's growth in the coming months. (Yonhap)