South Korea's economic growth accelerated in the first quarter from three months earlier but remained below the 1 percent level in a sign of a tepid recovery, central bank data showed Thursday.
The country's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.8 percent on increased construction investment and improved spending in the January-March period, up from a 0.3 percent on-quarter gain three months earlier, according to the preliminary data by the Bank of Korea (BOK).
From a year earlier, the economy expanded 2.4 percent in the first quarter, growing at the slowest pace since a 2.1 percent gain two years ago, according to South Korea's (Yonhap) News Agency.
Asia's fourth-biggest economy has been facing economic headwinds as the recovery remains weak despite policy efforts, including rate cuts. On-quarter growth, which reached 1.1 percent in the first quarter of last year, slowed to 0.5 percent in the second quarter and fell to 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter after slightly picking up to 0.8 percent in the third quarter.
Consumer spending increased 0.6 percent from three months earlier, slightly quickening from a 0.5 percent rise in the fourth quarter. Government spending growth, which sharply slowed in the previous quarter, stayed on par at 0.2 percent.
Growth in construction investment, which contracted for the first time in a year in the October-December period, sharply gained 7.5 percent on an increase in residential building projects, the data showed.
The data comes less than a month after the BOK released its revised economic forecast for the year. Citing the weaker-than-expected recovery, the central bank cut its growth outlook to 3.1 percent from 3.4 percent, projecting growth in the first half to reach 2.7 percent.
The government has introduced a set of measures to boost sluggish growth, including easing lending rules for homebuyers. The central bank has chimed in by lowering the base rate three times since August to a record low of 1.75 percent.