요약Industrial activities slowed down due to fewer days worked in February. Employment continued to grow significantly in March and consumer prices remained stable.
Industrial production fell in February (down 1.9%, m-o-m) as mining and manufacturing (down 2.6%, m-o-m), service output (down 1.1%, m-o-m) and construction completed (down 4.6%, m-o-m) all declined.
Consumption and investment slowed in February: Retail sales fell (up 0.1% → down 0.5%, m-o-m) as well as facility investment (up 1.9% → down 10.4%, m-o-m) and construction completed (up 3.3% → down 4.6%, m-o-m).
Exports remained weak in March, falling 8.2 percent year-on-year amid global economies slowing down, as well as due to weak semiconductors. The consumer sentiment index (CSI) improved for the fourth consecutive month in March, up 0.3 points to 99.8, and the business sentiment index (BSI) improved 4 points to 73. The BSI outlook remained unchanged in April at 76.
The cyclical indicator of the coincident composite index fell 0.4 points in February to 98.7, and the cyclical indicator of the leading composite index declined 0.3 points to 98.3.
The economy added 250,000 jobs in March backed by an increase in service jobs and government’s employment programs. Manufacturing jobs continued to decline but at a slower pace. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 4.3 percent compared with a year ago.
Consumer prices in March rose 0.4 percent compared to a year ago, fresh food and oil prices being stable and personal service prices growing at a slow pace. In March, KOSPI declined and the won weakened. Treasury bond yields fell. Housing prices continued to decline in March (down 0.12% → down 0.16%, m-o-m), as well as Jeonse (lump-sum deposits with no monthly payments) prices (down 0.22% → down 0.25%, m-o-m). Housing transactions fell.
The economy has to deal with the global economic slowdown and weak semiconductor markets, and uncertainties linger amid US-China trade conflicts and Brexit.
In seasonally adjusted terms which exclude the Lunar New Year Holiday effect, service output continued to improve for the January-February period, while other major indicators fell, including mining and manufacturing production, facility investment and exports.