* S.Korea sees 2017 growth at 2.6 pct vs 3.0 pct earlier
* S.Korea finance ministry sees recovery momentum declining
* Political scandal poses risks to fragile sentiment
* Nov industrial output jump likely temporary
* For related table, please see
(Adds PM comments, BOK report, replaces analyst comment)
By Christine Kim and Cynthia Kim
SEJONG, South Korea, Dec 29 South Korea lowered
its growth outlook for next year on Thursday as it saw weaker
domestic demand and waning job growth holding back recovery in
Asia's fourth-largest economy.
Corporate restructuring in the troubled shipping and
shipbuilding sectors would hobble job growth next year, while
consumption was expected to slow due to uncertainties inside and
outside the country.
An ongoing influence-peddling scandal involving President
Park Geun-hye and her close acquaintance, Choi Soon-sil, has
seen lawmakers overwhelmingly vote for Park's impeachment, which
the Constitutional Court must soon decide whether to uphold.
The scandal and subsequent investigations have battered
consumer and business confidence, with the consumer confidence
falling to a 7-1/2 year low earlier this week.
As a result, the government now sees economic growth of 2.6
percent in 2017, down from its earlier estimate of 3 percent,
and below the Bank of Korea's 2.8 percent forecast, the finance
"It's a relatively bleak view given that the government
usually takes in the upside of policy efforts to boost growth,"
said Moon Jung-hui, an economist at KB Investment & Securities.
"While exports are likely to rebound next year, sluggish
domestic demand will drag down overall growth as the
construction industry is losing steam."
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn stressed
the importance of restoring stable conditions so households and
businesses could go back to their normal spending patterns.
In its policy direction for 2017, the BOK also said the
economy faces downside risks from political uncertainty, adding
that it plans to keep monetary conditions easy next year.
FISCAL SPENDING TO THE RESCUE
The declining trend in exports, however, may have bottomed
out. The government projects exports will expand 2.9 percent
next year. December exports, due Jan. 1, are expected to rise
for a second straight month.
Despite this, possible trade protectionist policies from the
U.S. and increased trade competition with Japan and China are
risks to export recovery, the ministry said.
Also on Thursday, data showed industrial output in November
jumped at its fastest pace in over seven years, but analysts
doubted the gain would be sustained.
In a separate statement analysing November's output, the
finance ministry downplayed the rebound and said recovery
momentum could decline due to factors such as faster policy
tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve in 2017.
"This is just a temporary rebound and is unlikely to be the
prelude to an actual recovery," said Lee Sang-jae, chief
economist at Eugene Investment & Securities.
The finance ministry said if momentum doesn't pick up it may
press the case for a supplementary budget next year. Growth
slipped to 2.6 percent in 2015 from 3.3 percent in 2014.
Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said on Dec. 22 the government
may consider drafting a supplementary budget if growth next year
looks likely to slow to below 2.5 percent.
The government has pledged to spend 31 percent of fiscal
expenditure by end-March 2017 to counter slowing growth. The
government regularly front-loads budget spending in the first
half of the year to lend the economy a boost.
The government will also increase policy financing through
state-supported banks by 8 trillion won ($6.64 billion) in 2017
to 187 trillion won in total.
To shore up domestic demand, it plans to launch a
promotional event for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday in
January and to develop new travel destinations and packages
inside the country to attract foreign and local tourists.
The government sees inflation at 1.6 percent in 2017, up
from 1 percent estimated for this year, and expects about
260,000 jobs to be added, down from 290,000 for this year.
($1 = 1,205.2000 won)
(Reporting by Christine Kim and Cynthia Kim; Additional
reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer)