IMF: South Korean economy to hit bottom in early 2009

The South Korean economy, buffeted by the global meltdown, is fading fast but looks set to slowly recover in 2009, an International Monetary Fund official said Tuesday. "General measures of economic activity are decelerating rapidly," said Subir Lall, division chief in the Washington-based organization's Asia-Pacific department, said in a speech. Lall cited slowdowns in consumer spending and exports as well as falling business confidence as evidence for the emerging weakness in Asia's fourth-largest economy. "Overall, all the indicators are pointing to a slowing of the domestic economy," Lall said. The IMF is predicting economic growth of 2 percent next year for South Korea, a major reversal for an economy that grew 5 percent in 2007.