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(2nd LD) S. Korea's consumer prices rise 1 pct on-year in March

All News 09:10 April 02, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information in paras 8-11)

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's consumer prices gained 1 percent from a year earlier in March, the statistics agency said Thursday, despite the spread of the new coronavirus that has hurt consumer spending.

March marks the third consecutive month the country's inflation has increased more than 1 percent on-year, according to Statistics Korea.

The steady increase comes amid the continued spread of COVID-19 that has infected more than 9,800 people in South Korea as of Wednesday.

The statistics office said the virus outbreak had both downward and upward pressure on prices.

"Locally, a change in consumption and economic stimulus measures had an impact on prices, while internationally, a drop in oil prices due to slow demand had a impact on prices here," it said.

(2nd LD) S. Korea's consumer prices rise 1 pct on-year in March - 1

In March, prices of livestock products jumped 6.7 percent from a year earlier and the prices of processed foodstuff rose 1.7 percent.

Automobile prices, on the other hand, slipped 2.6 percent on a government tax break aimed at promoting consumption.

Prices of agricultural products, including fisheries, gained 3.2 percent on-year, while industrial goods prices added 1.3 percent.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, increased 0.4 percent from a year earlier, slowing slightly from a 0.6 percent on-year increase in February.

"Inflation will unlikely turn negative because of a low base effect from last year when prices were low, but it may drop down the road due to a drop in global oil prices," an official from the statistics office said.

South Korea's consumer prices had grown at less than 1 percent for 12 consecutive months before growing 1.5 percent in January, followed by a 1.1 percent increase the following month.
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