SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's economy showed mixed results Monday, with industrial production gaining more than expected while business sentiment slipped from a 17-month high and exports declined.
The August industrial activity index rose 0.8 percent from July, according to the National Statistical Office, and higher than the average forecast of a 0.3 percent gain in a Dow Jones Newswires survey.
The index gained 11.2 percent from the same month the year before August, beating the forecast 10.6 percent increase. The figures are preliminary.
Separately, business sentiment for October fell slightly from September amid a stronger South Korean won, a drop in semiconductor prices and rising global oil and raw material costs, according to a central bank's survey, which compiled results from nearly 2,400 companies.
The Bank of Korea's manufacturers' outlook index edged down to 94 from September's reading of 95, which had been the highest since 97 in April 2006.
The won gained about 2.5 percent against the dollar last month, hurting the country's export competitiveness and reversing a sharp fall in August amid turmoil in global credit markets.
The index stayed below the benchmark 100 level, indicating that a majority of respondents still believe business conditions will worsen rather than improve. It has been below 100 since January 2003.
Also, South Korea's exports slipped 0.4 percent in September from the year before to $29.55 billion amid a series of public holidays, according to preliminary figures by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.
The result was far short of the 4.1 percent gain predicted by economists.
''There were four fewer working days in September (than there were during the same month in 2006), and exports on a daily average basis were at a record high, which shows that exports are strong despite the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis,'' said Kim Jong-su, an economist at NH Investment & Securities.
Exports on daily basis averaged a record $1.52 billion, up 20 percent on year.
South Korea last week celebrated its annual Chuseok autumn harvest festival last week with three public holidays. Last year the festival, determined by the lunar calendar, fell in October.
Exports of automobiles fell 19.1 percent, semiconductors dropped 1.6 percent and mobile phones declined 2.2 percent.