South Korea's industrial output unexpectedly increased in January month-on-month, figures showed, easing concerns of a sharp slowdown in the export-dependent nation amid the eurozone crisis.
Production was up 3.3 percent from December, Statistics Korea said, compared with a 1.2 percent loss predicted in a Dow Jones Newswires poll.
The figure compares with a revised 0.7 percent month-on-month output fall in December.
Output fell 2.0 percent in January compared with January 2011. But HSBC Global Research said this partly reflected the fact that the long Lunar New Year regional holiday fell in January this year.
"Things are looking up in Korea," it said, noting that the figure marked the first monthly expansion for four months.
This showed "that Korean manufacturing conditions are beginning to improve with the rest of Asia", it said in a commentary.
The monthly increase eased concerns over a possible hard landing for the economy, said Hyundai Securities economist Lee Sang-Jae.
"The domestic economy is slowing down, but a clear sign seen here is that it's not a severe slowdown," Lee told Dow Jones.