Korea’s Sept inflation hits 6-month high on strong fresh food prices

2020.10.06 10:15:47 | 2020.10.06 11:22:19

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South Korea’s consumer prices in September rose at the fastest pace since March on the continued spike in fresh produce prices.

The country’s consumer price index (CPI) in September gained 1.0 percent from a year earlier, accelerating from the 0.7 percent rise in the previous month, according to Statistics Korea on Tuesday.

This is the first time in six months that the headline inflation has recovered 1 percent level growth.

Consumer prices had remained weak since April as the coronavirus pandemic hammered domestic demand. Inflation slid to negative territory in May, falling 0.3 percent, but picked up sharply in August as the record-long rainy season drove up fresh food prices.

Agricultural, livestock and fishery product prices jumped 13.5 percent in September. Fresh vegetable prices surged by as much as 34.9 percent from a year ago and 15.2 percent from the previous month. Fruit prices climbed 16.1 percent on year and 18.6 percent on month.

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Retail prices of cabbage have more than doubled from two months ago ahead of the kimchi making season, as the prolonged rain and back-to-back typhoons devastated output.

Industrial good prices fell 0.7 percent in September. Petroleum prices dropped 12.0 percent from falling global oil prices and soft demand from social distancing measures.

Utility costs edged down 4.1 percent, on par with previous months.

Service costs rose 0.5 percent on year on subdued domestic demand. Dining costs added 1.0 percent and non-dining services 1.5 percent.

The CPI without food and energy, the standard by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), rose 0.6 percent in September compared with August’s 0.4 percent gain. Core inflation, excluding volatile agricultural product and oil prices, added 0.9 percent after climbing 0.8 percent in the previous month.

By Lee Ji-yong and Kim Hyo-jin

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