SEOUL, April 8 Sales at South Korea's top
department and discount stores improved in March over February,
preliminary data showed on Tuesday, indicating economic
recovery, although a bit shaky, appears to be on track.
Combined sales at department store chains run by Hyundai
Department Store, Lotte Shopping and
Shinsegae Co edged up 0.1 percent in March from a
year earlier, the finance ministry said in a report. The sales
figure followed a 1.7 percent annual fall in February.
Sales at the country's top discount stores eased 3.8 percent
last month on an annual basis, after a 23.1 percent fall posted
in February, which had been attributed to technicalities related
to the Lunar New Year.
A key measure of consumer sentiment from the Bank of Korea
showed confidence remaining above the 100 neutral level,
indicating optimism, since January 2013.
Both the government and the central bank see the economy
growing by nearly 4 percent this year, partly propped by
improving domestic consumption, after having grown 3.0 percent
Meanwhile, finance ministry data showed in Tuesday's report
that sales of locally-produced automobiles rose by 0.9 percent
during March, following a 9.6 percent jump in the previous
Gasoline sales by volume fell 2.1 percent year-on-year last
month after a 2.2 percent gain in February.
(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer)