SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's industrial output index hit a record high in the first quarter as Asia's fourth-largest economy is recovering from pandemic-driven slumps, supported by robust exports, data showed Monday.
The index gauging industrial production came to 111.2 in the January-March period, up 1.7 percent from 109.3 three months earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
The reading marked the highest since the first quarter of 2000, when the statistics agency began compiling related data.
The country's industrial output was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the manufacturing sector, a backbone of the Korean economy, has been recovering on brisk exports of chips and autos.
The country's exports, which account for half of the economy, jumped 41.1 percent on-year in April to extend their gains to the sixth consecutive month amid a global economic recovery.
The index gauging output in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries also hit a record high in the first quarter, aided by strong exports, the data showed.
The index gauging output in such sectors came to 113.9 in the first quarter, up 3.5 percent from three months earlier and the highest since the first quarter of 1980.
But service output has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels as in-person service segments, such as hospitality and small retailers, still remained sluggish.
The service output index reached 108.4 in the first quarter, lower than 109.2 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019.
But service output rose for the third consecutive quarter in the January-March period, indicating that the service industry, hard hit by the virus outbreak, is gradually recovering.
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