SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's consumer sentiment sharply deteriorated in February, central bank data showed Tuesday, amid the continued spread of the new coronavirus that many believe may bring local spending to a near halt.
The composite consumer sentiment index came to 96.9 for the month, down 7.3 points from 104.2 last month, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).
The reading marks the lowest since August when the index stood at 92.4. A reading below the benchmark 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.
The sharp drop follows the outbreak of COVID-19.
South Korea reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Jan. 20, with 762 additional cases and seven related deaths reported as of Monday.
On Monday, the country raised its alert to the highest level of "red," while advising people to stay home, even from school or work, if they show symptoms of the viral disease that include fever and coughing.
The index measuring people's sentiment toward the country's current economic conditions came to 66, down 12 points from a month earlier, while the index for their outlook on conditions six months from now lost 11 points to 76 over the cited period.
The people also anticipated worse conditions in the job market, with the index on their expectations for job opportunities coming to 81 this month, compared with 88 in January.
The monthly survey was conducted from Feb. 10-17, involving 2,341 households throughout the country.
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