Import prices up for 2nd month in Feb. on rising oil prices, weak won

SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s import prices rose for a second consecutive month in February due to a rise in oil prices and a fall in the Korean won against the U.S. dollar, central bank data showed Friday.

The import price index rose 1.2 percent last month from a month earlier following a 2.5 percent on-month gain the previous month, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

From a year earlier, prices fell 0.2 percent, the data showed.

Import prices are a major factor that determines the path of the country’s overall rate of inflation.

The Dubai crude price, South Korea’s benchmark, stood at US$80.88 per barrel in February, up from $78.85 the previous month, according to the central bank.

The Korean won averaged 1,331.74 against the greenback last month, down from 1,323.57 the previous month.

Import prices of raw materials rose 2.4 percent, while those for intermediate goods gained 0.8 percent.

The export price index also advanced 1.4 percent in February after a 3.1 percent on-month gain the previous month.

In February, South Korea’s inflation ticked up to over 3 percent in a month on the high prices of fresh food items and energy.

Consumer prices, a key gauge of inflation, rose 3.1 percent on-year last month, compared with a 2.8 percent increase a month earlier, marking the first time in four months that the price growth accelerated in an on-month term.

Earlier this month, the BOK kept its key interest rate unchanged at 3.5 percent for the ninth straight time. The central bank delivered seven consecutive rate hikes from April 2022 to January 2023.

This file photo taken Dec. 3, 2023, shows a gas station in Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo taken Dec. 3, 2023, shows a gas station in Seoul. (Yonhap)

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