S. Korean inflation slows in February

South Korea's inflation rate slowed slightly to 1.4 percent in February, well below the central bank's target band and offering more room for monetary easing, government data showed Monday.

The figure, which compares with a rate of 1.5 percent in January, is below the Bank of Korea's inflation target band of 2.5 to 3.5 percent, and offers the central bank the option of a further interest rate cut to help spur growth.

The central bank kept the key rate unchanged at 2.75 percent in February for a fourth straight month.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, was at 1.3 percent, compared with 1.2 percent the previous month.

South Korea's export-driven economy grew 2.0 percent for the whole of 2012 -- the slowest pace in three years -- compared with 3.6 percent growth in 2011, on sagging demand due to the eurozone debt crisis and a slowdown in China.

The central bank recently slashed its forecast for economic growth for this year to 2.8 percent from 3.2 percent estimated last October.