Import prices snap 2-month fall in January on rising oil prices

South Korea's import prices rebounded in January from a two-month decline due to a rise in oil prices, central bank data showed Friday. The import price index rose 2.2 percent last month from a month earlier following a 1.7 percent on-month dip the previous month, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). From a year earlier, prices also climbed 0.2 percent, the data showed. Import prices are a major factor that determines the path of the country's overall rate of inflation. The Dubai crude price, South Korea's benchmark, stood at US$78.85 per barrel in January, up from $77.33 the previous month, according to the central bank. Import prices of raw materials rose 3.5 percent, while those for intermediate goods gained 1.6 percent. The export price index also advanced 3.2 percent in January after a 1 percent on-month fall the previous month. Meanwhile, South Korea's inflation fell below 3 percent for the first time in six months in January, by rising 2.8 percent on-year, compared wi th a 3.2 percent increase a month earlier. It is the first time that the figure fell below the 3 percent level since July last year, when the prices gained 2.4 percent. Last month, the BOK kept its key interest rate unchanged at 3.5 percent for the eighth straight time. The central bank delivered seven consecutive rate hikes from April 2022 to January 2023. But the central bank signaled it may shift toward ending its restrictive stance. Source: Yonhap News Agency