Bank of Korea (BOK) Governor Kim Choong-soo hinted on Thursday that the South Korean economy may bottom out in the third quarter, saying that the fourth-quarter GDP growth would not fall below the third-quarter figure.
"The GDP growth is not expected to fall below the third-quarter figure. The fourth-quarter reading will be higher than the one for the third quarter," Kim told reporters after the December rate- setting meeting.
On an on-quarter basis, the country's real GDP growth jumped from 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to 0.9 percent in the first quarter, but the reading continued to fall to 0.3 percent in the second quarter and 0.1 percent in the third quarter.
Kim noted that the bottom of the economic cycle can only be detected after the bottom passes by, but he said that the GDP growth would not fall further from the current level.
His comments came after the BOK froze its benchmark interest rate at 2.75 percent, maintaining its wait-and-see stance after cutting the rate in July and October.
Market watchers saw the South Korean economy bottom out in the third quarter, citing the export recovery amid solid demand from China. The on-year export growth picked up to 3.9 percent in November from 1.1 percent in October after posting a downward trend for three straight months.