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S. Korea's consumer sentiment stays above par for 7th month in July

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korean consumer confidence stayed above the benchmark for the seventh straight month in July on improvements in the local economy helped by fiscal and monetary stimulus measures, the central bank said Friday.

The consumer sentiment index (CSI) -- a gauge of consumers' overall economic outlook, living conditions and future spending -- came in at 105 for July, unchanged from the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

It marked the highest level since the index hit 106 in May last year.

The reading above 100 means that optimists outnumbered pessimists. The survey, based on a poll of 2,011 households nationwide, was conducted from July 11 to 18, 2013.

"The consumer sentiment index fared well, given concerns about fallouts from the Federal Reserve's stimulus reduction," said an official at the central bank.

Global financial markets remained skittish amid speculation that the Fed is mulling the timing to taper its bond-buying stimulus program.

The BOK recently raised up its 2013 growth estimate to 2.8 percent from the previous 2.6 percent, citing impact from fiscal and monetary stimulus. The government unveiled stimulus measures including extra fiscal spending, and the BOK made the first rate cut in seven months in May.

The index measuring interest rate outlook came in at 100 for July, up from 90 tallied in June, as the Fed's tapering speculation has jacked up bond yields globally.

The sub-index measuring the current economic assessment reached 82 for July, unchanged from the previous month, the BOK noted. The indicator gauging the economic outlook reached 95 for this month, down from 97 in June.

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