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South Korea's December consumer sentiment slips to three-month low

[SEOUL] South Korea's key consumer sentiment index slipped to its lowest level in three months in December but remained above the neutral line for a fifth straight month, indicating continued optimism for future conditions, a central bank survey showed on Thursday.

The Bank of Korea said its composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI) inched down to 103 in December just a month after it touched a reading of 106 in November, a 14-month high.

The December reading was the lowest since September this year, but above the 100-point line, which marks the divide between consumer optimism and pessimism toward economic and living conditions.

The survey results underscored the fragility of the current economic recovery as there are concerns that the effect from government efforts to boost consumption, aimed at offsetting weak exports, will thin out early next year.

The Bank of Korea's survey also showed the median expected inflation rate for the next 12 months remained unchanged for a fifth month in December at 2.5 per cent.

Public utility costs were expected to affect living prices the most in the coming 12-month period, followed by housing costs and manufactured goods.

The central bank survey polled more than 2,000 households nationwide from Dec 10 to 17.