South Korea consumer inflation slows to 10-month low

By Thomson Reuters Jun 3, 2024 | 6:29 PM

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s consumer inflation slowed for a second straight month in May to a 10-month low, official data showed on Tuesday, coming in lower than market expectations.

The consumer price index (CPI) in May stood 2.7% higher than a year earlier, slower than a rise of 2.9% in April and a gain of 2.8% tipped in a Reuters survey of economists. It was the slowest annual increase since July.

The index rose 0.1% on a monthly basis, according to Statistics Korea, after no change in April and compared with a 0.2% rise expected by economists.

By product, prices of agricultural products fell 2.5% over the month, but petroleum products rose 0.3% and personal service prices gained 0.4%.

The Bank of Korea said last month inflation would likely be on a downward trend throughout the year despite stronger economic growth, because domestic demand was seen recovering only modestly.

The BOK, which held interest rates steady for an 11th straight meeting in May, is expected to lower its policy rate by 50 basis points (bps) to 3.0% in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to a Reuters poll in May.

Core CPI, excluding volatile food and energy items, rose 2.2% year-on-year, slowing from a 2.3% rise in the previous month and marking the slowest since December 2021.

(Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Sonali Paul)