[SEOUL] 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.
Combined sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co rose 0.9 per cent in July from a year earlier, the finance ministry said in a statement.
This was compared to a 11.9 per cent 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 per cent, the same data showed. This was still a much slower fall than June, when sales slumped 10.2 per cent.
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 per cent in sequential terms.
Revised retail sales data will be published by the trade ministry later in the month.