Roundup: S. Korea's industrial output falls in 8 months over COVID-19

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SEOUL, March 2 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's industrial output fell in eight months in the first month of this year owing to the tightened quarantine measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, statistical office data showed Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted production in all industries, which exclude the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector, shrank 0.6 percent in January from a month earlier, according to Statistics Korea.

It marked the first decline in eight months since May last year, after growing 3.9 percent in June, 0.3 percent in July, 0.1 percent in August, 1.1 percent in September, 0.1 percent in October, 0.9 percent in November and 0.4 percent in December each.

The industrial activity weakened as the government tightened social-distancing rules to contain the virus spread.

The COVID-19 resurgence, which began in November last year, showed signs of let-up this year, but the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases remained in triple digits after peaking at 1,240 on Dec. 25.

In the latest tally, the country reported 344 more cases of COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, raising the total number of infections to 90,372.

The country launched mass COVID-19 vaccination in late February, aiming to achieve a herd immunity no later than November.

Production in the mining and manufacturing industry declined 1.6 percent in January from a month earlier. Output among manufacturers reduced 1.7 percent, posting the first slide in three months.

Electronic parts output plummeted 9.4 percent, and transport equipment production tumbled 12.4 percent.

Semiconductor production added 0.3 percent in January thanks to export recovery, but the rising pace slowed down from a 11.6 percent increase in December.

Production in the services industry shed 0.2 percent in January, after skidding 1.1 percent in the previous month.

Output in the arts, sports and leisure and the wholesale and retail sectors diminished 15.4 percent and 0.8 percent each, but those in the finance and insurance and the information and communications segments gained 1.3 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

Retail sale, which reflects private consumption, expanded 1.6 percent in January from a month earlier, after growing 0.1 percent in the prior month. It was the fastest growth since August last year.

The sale of durable goods such as consumer electronics jumped 4.8 percent, and the sale of semi-durables, including clothes, rose 1.0 percent in the month.

Facility investment advanced 6.2 percent in January on a monthly basis due to solid investment in machinery.

Completed construction slumped 6.0 percent during the winter season.

The cyclical variation factor for leading economic indicators, which measures outlook for future economic situation, kept rising for the eighth consecutive month.

The reading for coincident economic indicators, which gauges the current economic conditions, slipped 0.2 points in January, marking the first fall in eight months. Enditem

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