South Korea's industrial production rose for two straight months on the back of recovery in private consumption, a government report showed on Friday.
Production in overall industries gained 0.6 percent in March from a month earlier after growing 0.6 percent in February, according to Statistics Korea.
The continued growth came as private consumption recovered in the wake of strong demand for newly released smartphones, including Samsung's Galaxy S7 and LG's G5, and consumption tax cuts that led to brisk sales of automobiles.
Retail sales expanded 4.2 percent in March on a monthly basis, marking the highest monthly increase since February 2009.
Car sales jumped 18.2 percent in March, after climbing 9.3 percent in February. Sales of non-durable goods such as food and beverage rose 1.2 percent last month, with those for semi-durables like clothing increasing 3.3 percent.
Confidence among consumers improved. The composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI) rose for two straight months in April at 101, indicating that optimists outnumbered pessimists, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK) data.
Facility investment rebounded for the first time in three months. Capital spending jumped 5.1 percent in March, the fastest monthly growth in 16 months. Investment in general machinery and transport equipment gained 3.3 percent and 10.7 percent each, leading the March rebound.
Machinery orders, a leading indicator for facility investment, grew 6.4 percent in March from the previous month.
Construction investment posted a growth last month on increased social overhead capital (SOC) investment, and construction completed expanded 7.3 percent on strong demand for civil engineering works. But, construction orders reduced 7.3 percent on a yearly basis.
Despite the rise in overall industrial production helped by consumption recovery, production in the mining and manufacturing sectors dipped 2.2 percent in March from a month ago.
Production in semiconductors and processed metal products tumbled 21.3 percent and 6.7 percent each, turning downward from a sharp gain in the previous month.
Auto production increased 4.8 percent, and output of communications and broadcasting equipments jumped 22.4 percent in March.
Manufacturers posted an average capacity ratio of 73.2 percent in March, down 0.3 percentage points from the previous month.
Inventory ratio shed 2.1 percentage points from a month earlier to 125.8 percent in March as shipments grew at a faster pace than production, reducing inventories.
Production among services firms rose 0.8 percent. Output in the whole and retail industry increased 3.1 percent, and those in the science and technology sector advanced 6.9 percent.
The cyclical factor of leading indicators, which reflects an economic outlook, was unchanged in March from a month earlier. But, the figure for coincident indicators inched down 0.1 point, keeping a downward trend for three straight months.
For the first three months of this year, overall industrial production rose 0.6 percent from the previous three-month period.
Production in the mining and manufacturing industries reduced 0.8 percent in the first quarter from the prior quarter, with those in the services industry edging down 0.1 percent.
Retail sales shrank 1.1 percent in the first quarter, and facility investment tumbled 8.8 percent on a quarterly basis.