South Korea's factory output contracts in January even without virus impact

FILE PHOTO: Hyundai Motor's sedans are assembled at a factory of the carmaker in Asan, about 100 km (62 miles) south of Seoul, January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s factory output contracted sharply in January, data showed on Friday, though the fast-spreading coronavirus will likely pull down the data further going forward.

Industrial output shrank by a seasonally adjusted 1.3% in January from a month earlier, beating a 2.0% fall tipped in a Reuters survey. It rose 3.7% in December.

On a year-on-year basis, the factory output slid 2.4%, much worse than a 6.2% rise in December.

The virus epidemic, however, has not yet been reflected in the January data.

Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Sandra Maler