Choi Jae-won and Lee Ha-yeon
New construction orders in South Korea shrank to a 37-month low in February due to a slowdown in both private and public investments in industrial facilities, adding woes to Korean builders already grappling with the sluggish housing market.
According to the Construction Association of Korea on Tuesday, Korean builders bagged combined 8.59 trillion won ($7.53 billion) worth orders in February, shriveling 9.6 percent from the same month a year ago. The figure is the lowest since January 2016 and also the least for the month since 2015.
Builders obtained reduced orders both in the public sector (down 8.4 percent to 2.83 trillion won worth) and in the private sector (down 10.1 percent to 5.77 trillion worth).
Civil works for power cables, roads, bridges and airports tumbled 21.4 percent on year, and industrial building construction contracted 10.1 percent.
Dwindling orders are a bigger headache to builders who have received a blow from the slowdown in the local housing construction market following the introduction of a slew of strong government measures to crack down speculative housing purchases last year.
Industry insiders raise concerns for further thinning in the domestic construction demand, said an official in the association.