[SEOUL] South Korea's average disposable household income posted its first fall in nearly five years, dropping 0.4 per cent in real terms in the fourth quarter of last year over a year earlier, official data showed on Friday.
It follows a 0.2 per cent gain in the third quarter on-year and was the first annual loss since the first quarter of 2011, the Statistics Korea data showed, adding to gloom over Asia's fourth-largest economy which is already faced with a slump in exports.
This is a poor omen for private consumption as it follows a central bank survey this week showing poor exports and high household debt helped bring consumer sentiment down to its weakest in eight months.
Exports in January tumbled by nearly 20 per cent in their worst showing since the depth of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis with most of South Korea's major export markets, led by China, were slowing down.
These signs of a slowing economy place the central bank under pressure to cut interest rates further from the current record-low level. The Bank of Korea cut the policy rate twice last year but has kept it on hold for the past eight months.