Consumer sentiment rises again

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Consumer sentiment rises again

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Consumers are finally thinking about opening their wallets as various economic indicators show signs of an improving economy.

The country’s composite consumer sentiment index (CSI) picked up in November, reaching its highest point in almost three years, central bank data showed yesterday.

It is the second consecutive month the index gained after falling in September by 3 points.

According to the Bank of Korea, the CSI this month was 107, up from 106 the previous month. The 107 index is the highest in 33 months since it hit 109 in February 2011.

The index since January this year has remained above 100 after dipping to 99 in December last year.

The latest index was drawn out by conducting a survey on 2,200 households in 56 cities nationwide from Nov. 11 to 19. A reading below 100 indicates that there are more pessimists than optimists.

“The index shows that consumers feel the economy is on a recovery track, while at the same time they also hope the economy will continue to improve in the months to come,” said Park Sang-woo, an official from the Bank of Korea.

As for the sub-indexes under the CSI, the survey showed that consumers feel more optimistic about their current living conditions, and their outlook on their future living conditions also improved. From October to November, the index measuring current living conditions jumped from 91 to 92 and the index for future living conditions from 99 to 100.

Sentiment on the outlook of household income remained unchanged at 101, while sentiment on the outlook for consumer spending edged up by 1 point from 109 to 110.

The increase adds to growing expectations that the domestic economy is on a recovery path after struggling in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

In the third quarter this year, central bank data showed that gross domestic product jumped 3.3 percent compared to the previous year, while the economy grew 1.1 percent compared to the previous quarter.

Improving sentiments are being witnessed particularly in the retail industry.

Although many department stores across the country started sales seasons last week, Lotte and Hyundai claim that business is up by double digits compared to last year.

BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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