Published : 2013-02-01 09:04
Updated : 2013-02-01 09:04
South Korea's consumer prices grew at a faster pace in January from a month earlier, but the gain remained in the 1-percentage range for the third straight month, a government report showed Friday.
The country's consumer prices index rose 1.5 percent in January from a year earlier, compared with a 1.4 percent on-year gain in December, according to the report by Statistics Korea. From a month earlier, it grew 0.6 percent.
The on-year figure marked the third straight month that the price growth has remained in the 1-percent range since November when it fell to 1.6 percent from 2.1 percent in October.
The core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and food prices, rose 1.2 percent on-year in January, unchanged from the previous month, the report showed.
South Korea's inflation situations have been easing over the past year after staying relatively high at around 4 percent throughout 2011. The government has placed its top policy priority on stabilizing prices that could affect daily life of low and middle-income earners.
The report showed that the so-called "livelihood prices" that measure costs of key daily necessities inched up 0.8 percent on-year in January, compared with the previous month's 0.7 percent, remaining in a stable range.
But prices of fresh food products jumped 9.3 percent on-year.
In particular, agricultural product prices rose 8.7 percent, the report showed.
Factory product prices, meanwhile, grew 1.3 percent over the same period, with oil-related product prices falling 0.6 percent.
Electricity, tap water and heating gas costs still gained 4.4 percent last month, suggesting that high utility bills remain a drag on consumer prices, according to the report.
Despite the overall stable price levels, the government is keeping tabs on the market in anticipation of a possible hike in the weeks running up to the Lunar New Year holiday on Feb. 10.
The move comes amid speculation that public service and food prices are showing signs of rising in recent weeks.
Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan earlier said that the government will step up efforts to keep inflation in check in order to stave off "unjustified" and "bandwagon" moves to raise prices by mobilizing antitrust watchdog and tax agencies.
For 2012, the country's consumer prices rose 2.2 percent from a year earlier, which remained between the central bank's 2-4 percent inflation target band set for 2010-2012. Its annual core inflation gained 1.6 percent. (Yonhap News)