Friday, December 8

S.Korea July inflation near 24-yr high at 6.3%, as expected

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SEOUL — South Korea’s consumer price index stood 6.3% higher in July than a year earlier, official data showed on Tuesday, accelerating from the previous month to hit the fastest inflation rate in almost 24 years.

The rise met market expectations.

The annual rate was up from a 6.0% rise seen in June and was the fastest pace since a 6.8% gain in November 1998. The median forecast in a Reuters survey of economists was for the July consumer price index to be up 6.3% on a year earlier.

The index rose 0.5% in July on a monthly basis, just above a 0.4% rise tipped in the survey but slowing from a 0.6% gain in June, the Statistics Korea data showed.

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Annual core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, ended a three-month run of successive acceleration to hold steady in July at the 3.9% rate seen in June.

Tuesday’s data will be the only monthly inflation figures released between the central bank’s raising of interest rates in July and its next policy meeting, this month. The July rise, 50 basis points, was bigger than usual.

The Bank of Korea, which began tightening policy late last year ahead of its peers, said that the big-step rate hike on July 13 was unusual and that it would most likely be raising by a usual 25 basis points each time in the future.

It has raised the base rate, which applies to its 7-day repurchase agreements, by a total of 175 basis points since August last year from record low 0.5% and is widely seen poised for additional hikes for the rest of this year. (Reporting by Jihoon Lee and Choonsik Yoo; Editing by Tom Hogue and Bradley Perrett)