The Korea Herald


S. Korea's inflation slows in Nov., stays over 3% for 4th month

By Yonhap

Published : Dec. 5, 2023 - 09:32

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People shop at a major discount chain store in Seoul on Nov. 30. (Yonhap) People shop at a major discount chain store in Seoul on Nov. 30. (Yonhap)

South Korea's inflation grew at a slower pace last month, though it stayed above 3 percent for the fourth consecutive month amid high prices of energy and farm goods, data showed Tuesday.

Consumer prices, a key gauge of inflation, rose 3.3 percent in November from a year earlier, compared with a 3.8 percent on-year increase the previous month, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

It is the first time in four months that the annual price growth has eased.

The on-year price growth fell below 4 percent in April for the first time in more than a year and had been on a constant decrease to fall to a 25-month low of 2.3 percent in July.

But the figure rose to 3.4 percent in August and further to 3.7 percent in September due mainly to high oil costs and rising prices of some farm goods.

Compared with a month earlier, inflation fell 0.6 percent last month, marking the first on-month fall since November last year.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 3.3 percent on-year last month, slowing from the previous month's 3.6 percent growth.

Prices of daily necessities -- 144 items closely related to people's everyday lives, such as food, clothing and housing -- climbed 4.0 percent in November, compared with a 4.6 percent rise in October.

The government has said that inflationary pressure is forecast to ease at a slower pace than earlier expected and to stay over 3 percent through the end of this year, though it is expected to reach its target rate of 2 percent by around the end of 2024.

Last week, the Bank of Korea jacked up the inflation forecast for next year to 2.6 percent from its earlier estimate of 2.4 percent.

In detail, prices of agricultural products jumped 13.6 percent, the most in two and half years.

Fresh food items went up 12.7 percent on-year last month, driven by a 24.6 percent jump in fruit prices. Prices of apples and mandarins spiked 55.5 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively.

Unfavorable weather conditions have affected their output, an agency official said.

Prices of petroleum products shed 5.1 percent on-year in November as global oil prices have eased.

But the overall prices of industrial products went up 1.4 percent on-year last month due mainly to higher prices of gasoline and processed food.

Costs of gasoline rose 2.4 percent, while those of diesel fell 13.1 percent, the data showed.

Utility services rose 9.6 percent, led by electricity rates, and the service sector reported a 3 percent on-year price rise last month on higher insurance and house management costs.

"Inflation is forecast to ease gradually as long as there are no additional external shocks," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said during an emergency economic ministers' meeting Tuesday.

"The government will continue to maintain a special scheme on price stabilization given such lingering uncertainties as volatile global oil prices and weather conditions," he added. (Yonhap)