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South Korea consumer prices hit 10-year high

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea consumer prices grew at the fastest pace for more than a decade in March, official data showed yesterday, fuelled by rising energy costs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The reading ramped up expectations that the Bank of Korea will lift interest rates at its next meeting to bring the price rises under control.

The consumer price index jumped 4.1 per cent on-year, the fastest pace since December 2011, according to Statistics Korea, with officials warning it could go even higher.

It also marked the 12th consecutive rise, caused by a spike in the cost of goods and services as well as surging fuel and raw material prices, said Statistics Korea official Eo Woon-sun.

“There are concerns that price pressure could further rise due to the Ukraine crisis,” Eo told reporters at a briefing.

“For the time being, the possibility that inflation growth will sharply slow is not high,” he added. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and oil prices, rose 2.9 per cent.

The Bank of Korea is widely expected to tighten monetary policy to tame inflation at its next policy meeting next week.

It froze its key interest rate at 1.25 per cent at its last session in February following back-to-back hikes. The central bank has forecast annual inflation to hit 3.1 per cent this year.

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