Aug 11, 2015
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S.Korea July dept store sales rebound from MERS slump

Aug 11, 2015

Some of South Korea's private consumption indicators improved in July, a monthly government report showed on Tuesday, adding to hopes the economy will rebound from the second quarter slump caused by the MERS virus outbreak.

Skyline of Seoul, South Korea ©Sean Pavone/shutterstock.com - ©Sean Pavone/shutterstock.com

Combined sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co rose 0.9 percent in July from a year earlier, the finance ministry said in a statement.

This was compared to a 11.9 percent drop seen in June, which was mainly due to an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which hit private consumption and tourism hard.

Sales at major discount store chains also showed improvement although they fell for a second month in July, down 1.9 percent, the same data showed. This was still a much slower fall than June, when sales slumped 10.2 percent.

The finance ministry statement said consumption was showing signs of recovery from the outbreak but improvement in the service industry was still "insufficient".

It pointed to the Federal Reserve's pending rate hike and turbulence in Chinese stock markets as offshore risks.

Policymakers have been optimistic that four rate cuts since last year and a supplementary budget passed in July would boost third quarter growth, but it only managed to rise 0.3 percent in sequential terms.

Revised retail sales data will be published by the trade ministry later in the month. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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