Korean Economy, Housing and Lumber Shipments
Korea’s year-on-year GDP for the first quarter of 2012 expanded 2.8%, the slowest on-year growth rate for two and a half years. But Korea’s economy grew at the fastest pace for a year on quarterly basis in January-March due to strong industrial output. A rise in demand and strong government spending also helped offset softness in the construction and agricultural sectors.
The nation’s trade balance had swung to the red in January this year for the first time in 24 months by marking a $2 billion deficit. However, it turned to a $2.2 billion surplus in February, and continued trade surplus in March led the country to record $2.63 billion in cumulative trade surplus in the first quarter of 2012, slightly larger than $2.61 billion posted in the first quarter of 2011.
South Korea’s real consumer inflation for March this year is still relatively high at 3.2%.
The jobless rate fell from 4.5% to 4.2% in February, 2012 compare with the same month a year earlier.
Won-dollar fluctuation falls to 4-year low in the first quarter of 2012. The dollar closed at 1,126.37 won on April 19, 2012, up 1.7% from 1,107.40 the same date in 2011 and up 1.6% from 1,108.75 one month earlier.
Moody’s Investors Service, a global credit rating agency, raised South Korea’s credit rating outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘positive’ in April. The nation’s credit rating was maintained at A1, the fifth highest rating offered by the agency, but the improved outlook points to a possible upgrade in the sovereign credit ratings within the year.
Korean Housing Starts Summary and Market Condition:
Korea’s housing starts in the first two months of 2012 increased 41.3% to 10,538 buildings from a year earlier 7,459 buildings owing to the strong government spending and the continuous government extended policies to shore up the sluggish housing market.
Korean Wood Building Permits and Starts Summary:
The number of wood building permits and wood building starts for the first two months in 2012 increased 24.3% to 1,541 and 27.8% to 1,167 respectively compared with the same months in 2011.
Canadian SPF exports to South Korea in 2011 remarkably increased 30% to 124,500 MFBM from a year earlier 95,883 MFBM. The total SPF Export in 2011 valued at CAD $55 million.
This increasing trend of SPF exports to South Korea continues during the first two months in 2012 showing 14% rise to 20,911 MFBM from a year earlier 18,352 MFBM.