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South Korea's industrial output surged at a double-digit rate in February from a
year earlier, fueled by gains in autos and semiconductors, a government report
According to the report by Statistics Korea, production in the mining and manufacturing industries jumped 14.4 percent last month from a year earlier, compared with a 2.1 percent on-year contraction in January.
The latest output figure is higher than the 12.2 percent on-year expansion forecast by Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency.
The manufacturing sector, which makes up 94 percent of all the industrial output in the country, gained 14.8 percent from the previous year and rose 0.8 percent on-month in February after shrinking 1.9 percent in January, the report said.
The country's service sector production expanded 5.5 percent on-year last month, with the average operating rate of manufacturers standing at 81.1 percent, a gain of 0.6 percentage points from the month before.
The report also showed South Korea's overall output in manufacturing, mining and services moving up 8.5 percent from a year earlier.
"Last month strong export gains contributed to more demand for manufactured goods that generally improved production numbers," the statistical agency said, adding there is a possibility that production numbers may continue to improve for March.
The country's exports soared 20.6 percent on-year to $46.4 billion last month.
Output of semiconductors and related parts grew 13.9 percent with that for autos skyrocketing 34.1 percent. These gains offset negative growth in audio and video equipment.
In the service sector, wholesale and retail production contracted although financial and real estate numbers gained ground from the year before.
The latest report showed business investments and new construction orders jumping 22 percent and 100.4 percent, respectively, in February, according to the report.
The finance ministry, meanwhile, said last month's output was buoyed by the easing of global uncertainties and signs that the U.S. economy may be recovering.
It said that despite gains, there is a need to carefully monitor international crude oil prices that could adversely affect the country's balance of trade and hurt the economy.
"The government will react flexibly to any future developments as well as take measures to boost domestic consumption," the ministry in charge of the country's economic policy said.