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S.Korea's headline inflation stays above 1 pct for 2 months
Last Updated: 2020-03-03 14:28 | Xinhua
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South Korea's headline inflation stayed above 1 percent for two straight months through February after hovering below 1 percent for the whole year of last year, statistical office data showed Tuesday.

The consumer price index (CPI) stood at 105.80 in February, up 1.1 percent from a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea.

The consumer price inflation stayed below 1 percent during the entire year of 2019, but it rebounded to 1.5 percent in January, remaining above 1 percent for the second consecutive month to February.

The country's headline inflation remained far below the Bank of Korea (BOK)'s mid-term inflation target of 2 percent for an extended period of time.

The BOK froze its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1.25 percent last week, but two of the seven monetary policy board members claimed a 25-basis-point rate cut, indicating a possibly additional rate cut as early as in April.

The central set its outlook for headline inflation at 1.0 percent in 2020 and 1.3 percent in 2021 respectively.

Services price rose 0.4 percent in February from a year earlier, recording the lowest increase in over 20 years since December 1999.

Eating-out cost was up 0.7 percent in February, the lowest growth since January 2013. It came as the soaring cases of the COVID-19 here discouraged people from doing outside activity.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases here topped 4,800 as of Tuesday morning.

Cost for overseas group tour declined 5.8 percent, and airfare for international flight diminished 4.2 percent. Flower price slumped 11.8 percent as a number of schools cancelled graduation ceremony.

The expanded welfare policy, such as lower cost for medical checkup and free school meal, helped lower the services price.

Cost for medical examination at hospitals retreated 14.2 percent in February from a year earlier, while school lunch cost tumbled 57.9 percent.

Services price, except the dining-out cost, advanced 1.2 percent last month, pulling up the overall headline inflation by 0.23 percentage points. It was attributed to higher insurance services price and an increased cost for apartment management.

Public services price slipped 0.6 percent, and rent fell 0.1 percent in the month.

Price for agricultural, livestock and fishery products added 0.3 percent in February from a year earlier, after gaining 2.5 percent in the previous month. It contributed to the slower headline inflation last month.

Industrial products price went up 2.2 percent last month as oil products price jumped 12.5 percent after the end of the temporary cut in fuel taxes.

The higher oil products cost raised the overall inflation by 0.49 percentage points in February.

Price for electricity, natural gas and tap water gained 1.6 percent in the cited month.

Core consumer price, which counts out volatile agricultural and oil products, rose 0.6 percent last month on a yearly basis. The OECD-method core price, which excludes food and energy cost, added 0.5 percent.

The so-called livelihood cost, which measures cost for daily necessities, climbed 1.7 percent in February from a year earlier.

The fresh food price, which gauges price for fish, shellfish, vegetable and fruit, was up 0.7 percent last month.

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