Top Line: The year ended on a conditional high for Korea. Exports totalled more than US$60.7 bn for only the second time in Korea’s history, but imports reached an even bigger high at US$61.3 bn. By value total exports for 2021 increased 25.8%, but volume only by 5.9%. Daily covid infections peaked on December 15 and appear to be steady or falling to the 4000 per day range by the beginning of January. International achievements in December increased Korea’s status ranging from Netflix global record views, BTS in the US top 10, to having both Europe and US seeking industrial alliances. Industrial production for November and other data made November data look more lively than initial views a month ago, with mixed services demand. Household loans slowed, house prices stabilized, and MOE stated that GHG emissions in 2019 were lower than 2018.
GDP growth of 4% or at least 3.9% seems attainable although 4Q is hard to call in constant price terms. October was worse than any 3Q month, November appears to have been better than any Q3 month. The jury is still out on December.
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