Korea’s March consumer sentiment at 11-year low amid virus crisis

2020.03.27 11:00:36 | 2020.03.27 11:45:41

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South Korea’s consumer sentiment in March dropped to levels last seen during the 2008 financial crisis amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic.

The composite consumer sentiment index fell 18.5 points from the previous month to 78.4 in March, the weakest since March 2009 when the global community grappled with a financial meltdown, the Bank of Korea (BOK) survey showed.

All economic and household financial status indicators worsened due to the rapid global spread of COVID-19, which is weighing on broad consumer sentiment, said Kwon Cheo-yoon, statistics research team manager at the BOK.

The index dipped below the 100 threshold since February when Korea reported its massive outbreak. An index of above 100 means there are more people who are optimistic about the economy, while a reading below 100 means there are more pessimists.

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While the number of new infections in Korea has now slowed to about 100 a day, the highly contagious virus continues to rage across the United States and Europe, with the U.S. now overtaking China in confirmed cases.

The index tracking sentiment of current economic conditions dropped 28 points to 38, with the index track measuring the future economic outlook also down 14 points to 62. This means consumers think the current economy is worse off compared to the prior six months and believe the economy would get even worse six months from now.

The index representing the state of current livelihood and future livelihood conditions both slid 8 points and 10 points, respectively.

Households saw consumer price growth over the current year to have been 1.8 percent, same as the previous month. Their expected price growth over the next year also remained the same at 1.7 percent.

By Kim Hyo-jin

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