S.Korea Aug department store sales growth at 5-mth high
SEOUL, Sept 10
SEOUL, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Sales at South Korea's top department stores during August grew at the fastest annual rate in five months, preliminary data showed on Tuesday, suggesting an improvement in private consumption for Asia's fourth-largest economy.
Sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store , Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae last month rose by 7.0 percent from a year earlier, the finance ministry estimated, following a 2.1 percent drop in July.
Sales at the country's top discount stores fell by 2.4 percent in August from a year earlier, easing from a decline of 4.9 percent in July.
The data bolsters the central bank's expectations for sequential growth during the third quarter to accelerate from the seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in the April-June period and follows better-than-expected August exports data. [ID:ID:nL4N0GV0F1]
The Bank of Korea's composite consumer sentiment index held steady at 105 for the third consecutive month, meaning consumers who expect economic and living conditions to improve in coming months outnumber those who expect them to worsen.
The finance ministry also said on Tuesday that sales of locally-produced automobiles rose by 23.9 percent in annual terms in August following a 5.2 percent rise in July, marking the strongest pickup since April 2010.
A finance ministry official attributed the sharp pickup in auto sales to a low comparison base stemming from a prolonged strike among the local carmakers and said the number of cars sold last month fell from July.
Hyundai Motor Co.'s unionised workers idled the carmaker's South Korean factories for four or eight hours over 10 days starting on Aug. 20 over wage negotiations with the management.
Gasoline sales by volume rose by 11.4 percent in annual terms last month following a 2.0 percent fall in July, lifted by improved demand during the summer vacation season.
(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Eric Meijer)
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