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Consumer sentiment stays below par for 5th month

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Published : 2012-12-26 19:12
Updated : 2012-12-26 19:12

South Korean consumers’ confidence stayed below par for the fifth straight month in December as the economy loses steam on weak domestic demand, the central bank said Wednesday.

The consumer sentiment index ― a gauge of consumers’ overall economic outlook, living conditions and future spending ― came in at 99 for December, unchanged from the previous month, according to a monthly survey by the Bank of Korea.

A reading below the benchmark 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists. The survey, based on a poll of 2,032 households in 56 cities nationwide, was conducted from Dec. 10-18.

“The index moved sideways in recent months amid mixed economic signals at home and abroad,” said Jeong Kui-yun, an official at the BOK.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy is losing ground on weak exports and sluggish domestic demand. The South Korean economy is widely expected to grow by around 2 percent this year and the BOK cut the key rate in July and October to prop up growth.

South Korean consumers’ leeway to spend is being squeezed amid the economic slowdown and already-high household debt, analysts say.

The index gauging the economic outlook came in at 85 in December, up from 80 recorded for November, the BOK said.

Jeong said that consumers’ improved outlook seemed to reflect their expectations for economic stimulus measures to be taken by the new government, but the index still remained below the benchmark. (Yonhap News)

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