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Korea's consumer prices rise 1.9% in Feb.

South Korea's consumer prices rose at a faster-than-expected pace in February as prices of oil-related products picked up, government data showed Friday.

The country's consumer price index gained 1.9 percent last month from a year earlier, slowing down from the previous month's 2 percent rise, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

From a month earlier, the index also edged up 0.3 percent in February.
 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and food prices, increased 1.7 percent compared with last year.

The statistics office said rising oil prices led the upside trend of inflation, which had been below the 1 percent level for 17 out of the past 24 months. South Korea's consumer index climbed 0.7 percent in 2015 and 1 percent in 2016 amid falling crude oil prices.

Prices of gasoline and other related products jumped 13.3 percent in February from a year earlier, marking the fastest on-year growth since November 2011, when they soared 16 percent.

Prices of farm products rose 4.3 percent last month, while those of fresh produce, such as vegetables and fruit, added 4.8 percent on-year, ending their five-month-long double-digit on-year gain.

"A rise in the supply of agricultural products moderated the recent sharp upside mode," said Woo Young-jae, director of the price statistics division at the statistical bureau.

A protracted supply shortage stemming from sizzling heat and a typhoon in the summer and an outbreak of avian influenza and food-and-mouth disease have pushed up the consumer price index for nearly six months, as inflation has remained over the 1 percent level since September last year.

On the other hand, public utilities rates, including electricity, fell 8.3 percent from a year ago on the government's plan to lower household electricity bills by an average 11 percent at the end of last year.

The central bank has set its long-term target inflation at 2 percent, with the country's consumer prices having failed to meet the goal for years. (Yonhap)

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