Roundup: S. Korea's consumer price rises 3.1 pct in March

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SEOUL, April 2 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's consumer price stayed above 3 percent for the second straight month due to soaring prices for farm goods, statistical office data showed Tuesday.

The consumer price index (CPI) gained 3.1 percent in March from a year earlier after climbing 3.1 percent in February and 2.8 percent in January each, according to Statistics Korea.

The index continued to surpass the Bank of Korea (BOK)'s midterm inflation target of 2 percent. The BOK had left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.50 percent since January last year.

Price for agricultural, livestock and fishery products surged 11.7 percent in March on a yearly basis, lifting the overall inflation by 0.86 percentage points.

It marked the fastest increase in almost three years since April 2021.

Agricultural products price soared 20.5 percent in March, hovering above 20 percent for two months in a row.

Apple price skyrocketed 88.2 percent last month, recording the fastest gain since relevant data began to be compiled in 1980.

Prices for pear and tangerine swelled 87.8 percent and 68.4 percent each, while prices for tomato and green onion spiked 36.1 percent and 23.4 percent respectively.

Livestock products price added 2.1 percent, and fishery products price increased 1.7 percent.

Oil products price rose 1.2 percent in March from a year ago, posting the first rebound in 14 months since January last year.

Gasoline price was up 3.0 percent, but kerosene price slumped 4.3 percent in the cited month.

Price for industrial products, including oil products, went up 2.2 percent last month, higher than an increase of 2.1 percent in the previous month.

The processed food price climbed 1.4 percent in March after picking up 1.9 percent in the prior month.

Price for electricity, natural gas and tap water advanced 4.9 percent last month, pulling up the headline inflation by 0.19 percentage points.

Electricity bill picked up 4.3 percent, with city gas and heating costs going up 5.6 percent and 12.1 percent each.

Private service price, including eating-out cost, increased 3.1 percent last month, and public service price added 2.0 percent.

The eating-out expense gained 3.4 percent, drawing up the inflation by 0.48 percentage points.

Housing rent, including Jeonse and monthly rent, stood unchanged in March from a year earlier after inching down 0.1 percent in February.

Jeonse is South Korea's unique contract between two households where a landlord grants the two-year residential right to a tenant, who in turn lends a certain amount of money, or deposit, to the landlord.

The livelihood items index, which gauges the price for daily necessities, mounted 3.8 percent in March after gaining 3.7 percent in the previous month.

The fresh food index, which measures the price for fish, shellfish, fruit and vegetables, surged 19.5 percent last month, keeping a double-digit growth for the sixth consecutive month.

Demand-side inflationary pressure hovered high. The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile agricultural and oil products, climbed 2.4 percent last month.

The OECD-method core price, excluding volatile energy and food costs, increased 2.4 percent. Enditem

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