(ATTN: ADDS finance minister's remarks in paras 5-7)
By Kim Deok-hyun
SEJONG, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's industrial output, consumption and facility investment increased in September, in a sign that the nation's economy may be on a track toward a mild recovery from the coronavirus pandemic-caused slump, data showed Friday.
The nation's overall industrial production gained 2.3 percent on-month in September, following a 0.8 percent on-month decline in August, according to data compiled by Statistics Korea.
Compared with a year earlier, overall industrial production jumped 3.4 percent in September.
Production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries jumped 5.4 percent on-month in September, marking the fastest growth since June.
Shortly after the data released, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki voiced cautious optimism that the economy appears to have hit bottom.
All economic indicators "point to an economic recovery," Hong said in a Facebook posting.
Hong said South Korea's economy is heading for a gradual recovery in the fourth quarter.
The economy contracted 3.2 percent on-quarter in the April-June period, plunging Asia's fourth-largest economy into a recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
But Asia's fourth largest economy returned to modest growth in the third quarter, marking the first quarterly expansion since the coronavirus pandemic began, as exports showed signs of improvement.
In the July-September period, the nation's real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.9 percent from the previous quarter, when it shrank 3.2 percent.
The third-quarter reading marked the fastest expansion since the first quarter of 2010.
Retail sales rose 1.7 percent from a month earlier, and facility investment soared 7.4 percent on-month.
Sales of durable goods, such as cars, fell 0.7 percent, but those of nondurable ones, such as cosmetics, rose 3.1 percent in September, the data showed.
Production of chips surged 26 percent on-month in September and auto output jumped 15.4 percent last month.
A Statistics Korea official said industrial output showed signs of improvement, backed by a recovery in exports.
The so-called cyclical component of the composite leading index, which predicts the turning point in business cycles, rose by 0.4 point on-month to 101.3.
Last month, South Korea saw exports rebound for the first time in seven months as major trade partners gradually resumed their business activities amid the pandemic.
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