South Korea’s producer prices fall

Seoul, April 17 (IANS) South Korea’s producer prices fell for the first time in three months last month on the back of lower crude oil prices, central bank data showed Wednesday.

The producer price index (PPI), a barometer of future consumer price inflation, declined 0.4 percent in March from a month earlier after rising 0.7 percent in February and 0.2 percent in January respectively, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The first fall in three months came amid lower crude oil prices, reported Xinhua.

“Manufacturing goods prices fell 0.6 percent on an on-month basis amid a fall in global oil prices and worsening conditions in the steel industry,” the central bank said in a press release.

Prices for electricity, tap water and gas rose 1.4 percent due to a hike in water prices, while farm goods prices slid 3.8 percent amid lower vegetable prices.

From a year before, the producer prices fell 2.4 percent in March, the biggest decline since October 2009 when the reading retreated 3.1 percent.

Lower prices among producers granted more room for the BOK to cut borrowing costs.

Consumer price inflation stayed in the 1 percent range for the fourth consecutive month in February, remaining below the BOK’s inflation target band of 2.5-3.5 percent.

The central bank froze the benchmark interest rate at 2.75 percent at the April rate-setting meeting, keeping its wait-and- see stance for six straight months.

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