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South Korea Nov consumer sentiment index slips to 14-month low

[SEOUL] South Korea's key consumer sentiment index for November dropped to its lowest level in 14 months, central bank data showed on Wednesday, holding above the neutral line but illustrating how lifting domestic consumption is a struggle.

The Bank of Korea's composite consumer sentiment index fell for a second straight month in November, to 103 from 105 the previous month, the central bank said in a statement.

The November reading was the lowest since September 2013, when it was 102.

Index levels above 100 indicate positive consumer sentiment about the coming month is greater than the long-term average sentiment accumulated from 2003 to 2012. The last time the index fell below 100 was in December 2012.

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The data comes a day after revised retail data showed sales at South Korea's major department stores and discount-store chains in October was worse than initially expected, showing consumers found little reason to open their wallets.

Meanwhile, the median expected consumer inflation rate for the next 12 months stood at 2.7 per cent in November, unchanged from the record low reached in October.

Policymakers have been unwavering in their assessment that consumption in Asia's fourth-largest economy is slowly on the rise, attributing low inflation to supply-side factors such as weak agriculture and crude oil prices.

The Bank of Korea said its sentiment and expectations survey gathered responses from more than 2,000 households across the nation from Nov. 12-19.