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[SEOUL] South Korea's economy grew at the fastest pace in more than five years in the third quarter, driven by a strong rebound in consumer spending, central bank data showed Thursday.
Asia's fourth-largest economy expanded by 1.3 per cent in the July-September period, the fastest on-quarter growth since the second quarter of 2010, the Bank of Korea said.
The quarter saw consumers venture back into shopping malls as the threat posed by a serious outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) receded.
Thirty-six people died in the outbreak, during which local businesses including shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas reported a sharp drop in sales as people shunned public venues with large crowds.
The tourism industry was hit particularly hard, with the number of foreign visitors plunging by up to 60 per cent.
The third-quarter figure was higher than an earlier estimate of 1.2 per cent and marked the first time in five quarters that it has exceeded the 1.0 per cent mark.
Output in the manufacturing industry inched up only 0.1 per cent on-quarter, reflecting a persistent slump in exports, which account for about half of South Korea's GDP.
The central bank has predicted South Korea's GDP would grow 2.7 per cent this year.