Consumer prices up 1.9% in April

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Consumer prices up 1.9% in April

Korea’s consumer prices continued to rise in April, going up nearly 2 percent amid high-flying oil prices, government data showed Tuesday.

The country’s consumer price index gained 1.9 percent last month from a year earlier, slowing from the previous month’s 2.2 percent rise, according to data compiled by Statistics Korea.

Consumer prices have hovered around 2 percent since January 2016 due to a sharp gain in oil prices, following a 1.3 percent year on year gain in December.

From a month earlier, the index edged down 0.3 percentage point to 102.66 in April, with it set at 100 in 2015.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and food prices, rose 1.5 percent compared to last year.

The statistics agency said rising prices at the pumps pushed up consumer prices last month, but April inflation was partly offset by a drop in vegetable prices.

Prices of gasoline and petroleum products advanced 11.7 percent last month from a year ago amid an upturn in global crude oil prices. Gas prices at the pump jumped 9.5 percent year on year last month, and diesel prices gained 14.1 percent year on year, while a 3.9 percent hike in natural gas rates also lent support to the monthly consumer price hike.

But prices of vegetables fell 6.1 percent in April from a year earlier on an increased supply over the spring, backtracking from a 1.6 percent rise in the previous month.

In particular, prices of Chinese cabbage plunged 36.6 percent last month, with broccoli and ginger costs falling 42 percent and 36 percent.

“Prices of agricultural and petroleum products fluctuate widely from time to time and affect the prices index to a large extent,” said Woo Young-jae, a director at the statistical bureau. “But the upside trend of 2 percent inflation will likely continue further, if there are no sudden ups and downs.”

The finance ministry also expected inflation to remain stable in the coming months.

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