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S. Korea closely watching prices of food, oil

A sign displays gas prices at a filling station in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
A sign displays gas prices at a filling station in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
South Korea is closely monitoring rising prices of agricultural and oil products, the vice finance minister said Friday, amid concerns that inflation may pick up amid an economic slowdown.

First Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom said the government plans to draw up measures to respond to a potential surge in such prices, if needed.

"Not only prices of agricultural and livestock products but also those of raw materials, including crude oil and nonferrous metal, have continued to stay firm," Kim said at a meeting on government policies.

The country's inflation remains subdued amid the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, but prices of agricultural and livestock products jumped last month.

Prices of eggs rose 15.2 percent on-year in January, the fastest since March 2020, due to the outbreak of bird flu, and those of farm products gained 11.2 percent amid cold spells, according to the statistics agency.

After staying low due to weak global demand caused by the pandemic, oil prices also advanced in recent months amid hopes for a global economic recovery.

Prices of Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, rose 10 percent on-month in January.

The Bank of Korea (BOK) forecast the country's inflation to grow 1 percent this year, citing an economic recovery and a pickup in oil prices. Last year, consumer prices grew 0.5 percent due to the pandemic. (Yonhap)

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