South Korea’s consumer confidence improves

Seoul, Sep 25 (IANS) Confidence among South Korean consumers over the economy improved for three months in a row, indicating a recovery from the effect of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, central bank data showed on Friday.

Composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI), which reflects consumers’ assessment of economic conditions, rose one point from a month earlier to 103 in September, Xinhua news agency quoted the Bank of Korea (BOK) as saying.

The index tumbled from 105 in May to 99 in June when the MERS contagion peaked, before going up to 100 in July and 102 in August. The reading above 100 means that optimists outnumber pessimists.

During the peak of the MERS contagion, consumers refrained from outside activities, including entertainment and social gatherings, and even from going for shopping for infection fears.

The BOK cuts its policy rate by 25 basis points in June to an all-time low of 1.5 percent to prop up the faltering sentiment among consumers.

The finance ministry announced a stimulus packed worth around 22 trillion won ($19 billion), including a supplementary budget plan for the second half.

Inflation expectations among consumers over the next 12 months recorded 2.5 percent in September, unchanged from the previous month.

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