Consumer sentiment dips to 6-month low in May amid rising prices, high rates

SEOUL, South Korea's consumer sentiment declined to a six-month low for May amid high inflation and market rates, a central bank poll showed Tuesday. The composite consumer sentiment index stood at 98.4 this month, down from the previous month's 100.7, the lowest since November last year, according to the survey conducted by the Bank of Korea (BOK). A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists. The central bank said consumer sentiment dropped amid a rise in prices of agricultural goods and high interest rates. Inflation expectations rose this month compared with the previous month. This month, ordinary people expect consumer prices to rise 3.2 percent for the year ahead, compared with the previous month's 3.1 percent. The figures are closely watched, as their upward move could cause businesses to raise prices and people to ask for pay raises, thereby resulting in more upward pressure on inflation going forward. South Korea's inflation rose 2.9 percent in April, marking the first time in th ree months that the index fell below 3 percent. The country's central bank froze its key rate for the 10th straight session at 3.5 percent last month amid slower-than-expected inflation moderation. The rate freezes came after the BOK delivered seven consecutive rate hikes from April 2022 to January 2023. Source: Yonhap News Agency