South Korea Jan import price growth at near 2-year low

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s import prices fell for a third consecutive month in January to bring the annual growth rate down to a near 2-year low, data showed on Wednesday, adding to signs of easing pressure on consumer inflation ahead.

The import price index, measured in terms of the won, dropped 2.3% in January from the previous month after declines of revised 6.5% and 5.5% in December and November 2022, respectively, the data from the central bank showed.

From a year earlier, the index was just 1.7% higher, slowing from a revised 8.7% gain in December 2022 and marking the slowest annual growth since setting a 0.3% decline in February 2021, the Bank of Korea data showed.

The data supported a broad view among economists that consumer inflation in Asia’s fourth-largest economy was on a slowing path, thus allowing the central bank to consider ending its monetary policy tightening campaign soon.

The Bank of Korea has said the country’s annual consumer inflation would slow toward 3.0% later this year after hovering around 5% in early months, compared with its target of keeping it around 2% on a medium-term horizon.

(Reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Editing by Sam Holmes)