[SEOUL] South Korean consumer sentiment fell to a three-month low in May, a central bank survey showed, casting a cloud on prospects for improvement in Asia's fourth-largest economy.
The composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI) fell to 99 in May from 101 in April, the Bank of Korea said. It was the lowest reading since February this year.
A reading below 100 indicates consumers who expect economic and living conditions to deteriorate in the coming month outnumber those who see them improving.
The survey results contradicted recent policymakers'comments that sentiment has been broadly picking up in South Korea, aiding the recovery.
A closer look at the index showed respondents felt most pessimistic about future living conditions, especially employment possibilities. The index for future job prospects dropped by the most in the sub-index to 74, the lowest level since March 2009 when it was 55.
The same survey showed South Koreans expected consumer inflation for the next 12 months at 2.4 per cent, ticking down from the previous month's result at 2.5 per cent.
The top factor that is expected to affect inflation in the coming year was utility costs, followed by housing prices and manufactured goods.
The Bank of Korea said it surveyed more than 2,000 households nationwide from May 12 to 19.