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(LEAD) S. Korea's economy showing signs of gradual slowdown: KDI

All Headlines 14:16 December 10, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS KDI survey in last 2 paras)

SEJONG, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's economy is showing signs of a gradual slowdown with export growth cooling amid sluggish private consumption, a state-run think tank said Monday.

"The growth pace of exports slowed and domestic demand remained weak, implying that overall economic activity appeared to be gradually slowing," the Korea Development Institute (KDI) said in its monthly evaluation of the country's economic conditions.

Exports in November appeared to lose some steam, mainly due to weaker global demand for Korean memory chips and petrochemical goods, the KDI said.

South Korea's exports rose 4.5 percent from the previous year in November, compared with a 22.7 percent gain a month earlier, according to the report.

Outbound shipments reached US$51.92 billion last month, marking the seventh consecutive month the total exceeded $50 billion.

Imports advanced 11.4 percent on-year to $46.78 billion in the one-month period, with the trade surplus hitting $5.14 billion.

The Korea Development Institute's logo (Yonhap)

Industrial output rebounded in October from a month earlier, due to a rise in metal processing and logistics production.

Production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries gained 1 percent on-month in October, following a revised 2.7 percent on-month fall in the previous month.

Facility investment rose 9.4 percent on-month in October, but the rise is expected to be short-lived, the KDI said. Facility investment in September dipped 19.1 percent on fewer working days due to the Chuseok holiday.

Asia's fourth-largest economy is expected to expand 2.7 percent this year, slower than an earlier estimate of 2.9 percent, due to weak investment growth and tepid domestic demand.

For next year, the economy will grow at a slower pace of 2.6 percent on the back of weaker private spending and exports, the KDI said.

In October, the Bank of Korea (BOK) trimmed its economic growth outlook to 2.7 percent for 2018 from its earlier projection of 2.9 percent. It is lower than the finance ministry's 2.9 percent outlook and the International Monetary Fund's 2.8 percent prediction.

The South Korean economy grew 3.1 percent in 2017 and 2.9 percent in 2016.

A survey of 19 economists by the KDI, conducted in October, showed that they expected the economy to grow 2.5 percent next year, down from 2.8 percent surveyed in the third quarter.

The economy is expected to create about 100,000 new jobs next year, with the jobless rate expected to stand at the upper end of the 3 percent range, the survey showed.
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