SEOUL, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Annual sales at South Korea’s top department and discount stores in January were seen rebounding from the previous month, finance ministry estimates showed on Friday, backing recent policymaker comments that consumption is steadily recovering.
Combined sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co rose 9.6 percent in January from a year ago, the finance ministry said in a monthly report.
Sales at major discount stores were seen to jump 13.4 percent over the same period, the data showed.
Figures from the trade ministry, which will publish confirmed numbers later in the month, had shown department stores’ December sales fell 5.7 percent and discount store sales had been down 5.1 percent on-year.
The finance ministry data also showed gasoline and diesel sales in volume terms had gained 8.5 percent in January from a year ago, which was the fastest rise in three months and compared to a 4.3 percent rise in December.
The ministry said in the report that domestic consumption had steadily posted positive growth while production and investment were showing signs of improvement.
However, it noted that external risks to the economy were increased by slowing Chinese growth, geopolitical risks sparked by a rocket launch from North Korea on Sunday, falling oil prices, and jitters stemming from the direction of U.S. monetary policy. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer)