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South Korean consumer confidence going up, industry down

Staff writer |
Confidence among South Korean consumers over economic outlook improved for five months in a row thanks to fiscal and monetary stimulus, central bank data showed.

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The composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI), which gauges consumers' assessment and outlook for economic conditions, rose one point from a month earlier to 106 in November, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

It marked the five straight months of increase after sliding to 99 in June when the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) peaked.

Consumers refrained from spending at the time for fears of contagion. The last South Korean MERS patient died Wednesday, making the country officially free of the viral disease.

The index is based on a survey of 2,014 households conducted between Nov. 12 and 19. The reading above 100 means optimistic view outstripped pessimistic ones.

Sub-indices showed a mixed picture. Sentiment over current economic conditions declined 2 points from the prior month to 79 in November, with the figure for prospective economic conditions over the next six months sliding 2 points to 89.

Prospects for household income gained 1 point from a month earlier to 102 in November, and the reading for consumer spending prospects rose 2 points to 110 last month.

Inflation expectations, which measure consumers' outlook for headline inflation over the next 12 months, made no change at 2.5 percent in November compared with the previous month.

South Korea's manufacturing and mining industry shipments contracted in 2014 mainly due to minus growth in the electronics and refined petroleum sectors, a government report showed.

Statistics Korea said total shipments by companies with more than 10 employees topped 1,490 trillion won ($1.3 trillion), down 0.3 percent, or 4.4 trillion won, from the year before.

The decrease is attributable to a 4.6-percent on-year drop in electronics and a 4.4-percent decrease in shipments from local refined petroleum businesses in the one-year period, the agency said.

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