Wednesday, March 22

S. Korea consumer inflation softens at surprising rate from 24-yr high

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SEOUL — South Korea’s annual consumer inflation softened in August for the first time in seven months and by a greater degree than expectations, government data showed on Friday.

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 5.7% in August from the same month a year ago, according to the Statistics Korea data, following a 6.3% increase in July, which was the most since November 1998.

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It was also slower than the median forecast of 6.1% tipped in a Reuters poll of 24 economists, and matched the lowest forecast in the survey, which only one economist correctly predicted.

The annual inflation rate slowed for the first time since January and marked the slowest in three months.

But core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, accelerated its annual growth to 4.0%, from 3.9% in the previous month, hitting the fastest rate since February 2009.

The CPI declined 0.1% on a monthly basis, falling for the first time since November 2020 and also lower than a 0.3% rise seen in the survey. (Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Chris Reese and Stephen Coates)