S. Korea's consumer prices grow 1.1 pct on-year in January

SEJONG, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's consumer price growth stayed in the 1-percent range in January thanks to the stabilization of farming product prices, a government report showed Tuesday.

The country's consumer price index rose 1.1 percent in January from a year earlier, unchanged from the previous month's on-year gain of 1.1 percent, according to the report by Statistics Korea.

This marked the third straight month that the growth has stayed in the 1-percent range.

The core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and food prices, rose 1.7 percent on-year in January, lower than December when it increased 1.9 percent from a year earlier, the report showed.

"Farming product prices stabilized compared with the same month of last year when a cold spell affected crop harvests. Oil product prices also fell, helping subdue the consumer price increase last month," said Kim Bo-kyung, the head of the agency's prices statistics division.

The fresh food price index dropped 12.9 percent on-year in January, with fresh vegetables and fruits moving down 25.7 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, the report showed.

Prices of oil-related products also fell 1.5 percent.

The report said the "livelihood price" index, which measures the costs of key daily necessities, rose 0.6 percent on-year in January and increased 0.8 percent compared with a month earlier.

Utility service prices also marked an increase. The costs of electricity, tap water and gas rose 6 percent on-year in January.

Rent and personal service prices rose 2.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, in January from a year earlier, the report showed.

The latest price data comes amid expectations that the country's economy is coming out of a prolonged slow growth.

The government earlier predicted that the economy will grow 3.9 percent in 2014 following last year's 2.8 percent, and that consumer prices will grow 2.3 percent this year, accelerating from last year's 1.3 percent.

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