South Korea's economy grew 0.4 percent in the final three months of 2012 on a quarterly basis, the central bank's advance estimates showed on Thursday, up from the preceding quarter and roughly matching market expectations.
The seasonally adjusted reading was up from a 0.1 percent rise in gross domestic product during the July-September period and compared with the median 0.5 percent growth forecast in a Reuters survey of 18 analysts.
Despite the pick-up, it fell short of around 0.8 percent growth that the Bank of Korea had projected as recently as in October, underscoring a delayed global recovery due to persistent uncertainties hobbling the major economies.
Highlighting the challenges facing Asia's fourth-largest economy, growth for the whole of 2012 slid to a real 2.0 percent, the second-worst in 14 years, from 3.6 percent in 2011. The central bank expects growth to quicken to 2.8 percent this year.
South Korea's economy derives slightly more than half of its annual gross domestic product from private consumption within the country, but its jobs market and factory production rely heavily on export performance.
Private consumption grew by a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in the December quarter from the previous three-month period after a 0.7 percent rise in the third quarter, the Bank of Korea's estimates showed.
Capital investment was down 2.8 percent in the October-December period on a quarterly basis, an improvement from a 4.8 percent drop in the third quarter.
On a year-on-year basis, gross domestic product grew 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the central bank estimated, the same as in the third quarter and compared to a 1.9 percent rise forecast in the Reuters survey.