December 10, 2013 / 1:25 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-S.Korea Nov dept, discount store sales both up for 1st time since June

* Nov department store sales +5.9 pct y/y vs -1.7 pct in Oct

* Nov discount store sales +0.8 pct y/y vs -6.4 pct in October

* Finance ministry says private sector conditions remain soft

* Nov industrial output could be weighed by weak exports -fin min (Adds data, comments from the finance ministry)

SEOUL, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Sales at South Korea’s top department and discount store chains grew simultaneously in November for the first time in five months, preliminary data showed on Tuesday, suggesting that the recovery remains on track in the current quarter.

Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae grew sales by 5.9 percent from a year earlier, the finance ministry said in a statement, following a 1.7 percent drop in October.

Sales at the country’s top discount stores rose by 0.8 percent from a year earlier in November, compared with a 6.4 percent drop in October.

The data suggests that South Korea’s economy will likely continue growing in the fourth quarter, though perhaps at a slower rate than the seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent seen in the July-September quarter.

The Bank of Korea said last week that fourth-quarter’s sequential growth rate should be at least 0.8 percent.

The finance ministry said that the economy’s growth momentum was building but warned that private sector conditions remained vulnerable to the looming U.S. government fiscal talks and the prospects of the Federal Reserve unwinding quantiative easing.

“November’s industrial output could fall slightly, weighed by the tougher comparison base posed by October’s rebound as well as a slowdown in exports recovery,” the ministry said. November’s exports grew by a weaker-than-expected 0.2 percent in annual terms, as external demand has yet to fully recover.

Sales of locally produced automobiles fell 8.5 percent from a year earlier in November, compared with a 3.0 percent decline, as potential buyers waited for the release of new models in December.

Gasoline sales by volume rose by 0.6 percent in November following a 2.0 percent fall in October.

Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Eric Meijer

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