South Korea inflation hits record low in August

SEOUL • South Korea's year-on-year inflation last month dipped to an all-time low as farm product prices plunged on improved weather and consumer demand remained weak, strengthening the case for another central bank rate cut as early as next month.

The consumer price index was unchanged last month from a year earlier, Statistics Korea data showed yesterday, missing a 0.2 per cent rise tipped in a Reuters survey and marking the lowest since the country began releasing inflation data in 1965.

Separately, the Bank of Korea yesterday revised down the economic growth for the April-June period to 1.0 per cent quarter-on-quarter from a 1.1 per cent gain reported earlier, citing weaker exports than estimated earlier.

The weak inflation and economic growth data add to concerns about a deflation risk for Asia's fourth-largest economy, despite assurances from top policymakers that inflation would soon pick up to 1 per cent.

"We are not in a deflation situation yet, but over the medium term, we need to start thinking about deflation as we have more and more data showing weakness," said Korea Investment and Securities fixed-income strategist Oh Chang-sob.

The inflation and economic growth data was released before local financial markets opened.

Last week, the Bank of Korea kept the benchmark interest rate steady at 1.50 per cent but kept the door open for what would be the second rate cut this year after a surprise easing in July.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2019, with the headline 'S. Korea inflation hits record low in August'. Print Edition | Subscribe