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(LEAD) Consumer prices growth hits over 4-yr high in Jan.

All Headlines 08:54 February 02, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more details from 6th para, photos)

SEJONG, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's consumer prices rose at the fastest clip in more than four years in January on a sharp rise in food prices, government data showed Thursday.

The country's consumer price index gained 2 percent last month from a year earlier, accelerating from the previous month's 1.3 percent rise, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

The January figure marked the highest on-year gain since October 2012.

From a month earlier, the index also edged up 0.9 percent in January.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and food prices, increased 1.7 percent compared with last year.

(LEAD) Consumer prices growth hits over 4-yr high in Jan. - 1

The statistics office said high prices of vegetable and poultry products pushed up the inflation in Asia's fourth-largest economy last month by a large extent.

Prices of fresh fruit and vegetables jumped 12 percent in January from a year earlier due to a protracted supply shortage stemming from sizzling heat and a typhoon in the summer.

In particular, prices of Chinese cabbages and radishes surged 78.8 percent and 113 percent, respectively, and those of carrots soared 125.3 percent.

Also, the worst outbreak of avian influenza, which led to a culling of more than 13 million chickens and ducks in about two months, lent support to the steep rise in monthly consumer price index.

Livestock products saw their prices leap 9.5 percent on-year, with prices of eggs vaulting 61.9 percent and those of beef gaining 4.7 percent.

"Rising prices of farm products were the main culprit of the last month's sharp inflation," said Woo Young-jae, director of the price statistics division at the statistical bureau. "People may feel higher prices these days as price tags on foodstuffs and groceries have been rising, along with higher gas prices at the pump."

Prices of gasoline and petroleum products advanced 8.4 percent last month from a year ago amid an upturn in the global crude oil price.

On the other hand, public utilities rates, including electricity, fell 8.3 percent from a year ago on the government's plan to lower household electricity bills by an average 11 percent.

The central bank has set its long-term target inflation at 2 percent, while the country's consumer prices grew 1 percent from a year earlier in 2016.

(LEAD) Consumer prices growth hits over 4-yr high in Jan. - 2

brk@yna.co.kr
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