South Korean gross domestic product unexpected expanded by 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the previous three months, the central bank said on Friday in an advanced reading, possibly averting a technical recession.

Analysts had been expecting a 0.8 percent quarterly decline following the 5.6 percent fall in the previous three months.

On an annual basis, gross domestic product fell 4.3 percent versus forecasts for a 4.6 percent decline after the 3.4 percent contraction in the fourth quarter of 2008.

On the production side, the manufacturing sector decreased 3.2 percent, which was mainly due to the declines in transport equipment and general machinery that offset the growth in IT manufacturing such as semiconductors and video, audio and communication equipment, the bank said.

The construction sector recorded a growth rate of 6.1 percent, which was attributable to an increase in civil engineering. Services rose by 0.3 percent. The wholesale and retail trade, restaurant and hotels and financial intermediation showed the steady growth, while transport, storage and communications shrank.

On the expenditure side, private consumption rose by 0.4 percent owing to an increase in expenditures on services, semi-durables and durables but not in non-durables.

Facilities investment decreased by 9.6 percent due to a contraction in machinery equipment and transport equipment. Construction investment rose by 5.3 percent due to an increase in civil engineering.

Exports of goods decreased by 3.4 percent, due to falling exports of transport equipment and general machinery. Imports of goods also shrank by 7.0 percent, led downward by those of machinery and electronic products.

Real GDP decreased by 4.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2009.

On the production side, real GDP's decline was mainly due to the falls in manufacturing and services, which offset the growth of construction.

On the expenditure side, construction investment showed robust growth while private consumption, facilities investment and exports all fell steeply.

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