South Korea's producer prices dropped for a third consecutive month in September, central bank data showed Tuesday, possibly signaling a steady drop in consumer prices that has been partly blamed for the country's slowing growth.
The producer price index for all commodities came to 103.84 in the month, down 0.7 percent from the same month last year, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).
The index marks a 0.1 percent increase from a month earlier. On a year-on-year basis, however, the index has been on a steady decline since July, when the country posted its first on-year drop in 33 months. Producer prices are a key barometer of future inflation of consumer prices.
South Korea's consumer prices dropped 0.4 percent from a year earlier in September, marking its first-ever negative on-year growth, while BOK officials expect the low inflation trend to continue for some time due to what they call a base effect created by a surge in prices of agricultural products last year.
In September, the price index for farmed goods plunged 8.0 percent from a year earlier to 117.92, while that of industrial goods slipped 1.9 percent on-year to 102.44.
The indices for semiconductors and petrochemical products tumbled 13.2 percent and 14.9 percent on-year, respectively. The two products are the country's key export items that together account for more than 40 percent of its overall exports.
South Korea's exports have dipped for 10 consecutive months since December and are again poised to drop this month, with shipments plunging 19.5 percent from a year earlier in the first 20 days of the month.
Amid a steady decline in exports and low inflation, the BOK has twice revised down its growth outlook for Asia's fourth-largest economy from 2.6 percent projected in January to 2.5 percent in April, then again to 2.2 percent in July.
The central bank is widely expected to again slash its growth estimate when it offers its final growth outlook for the year late next month. (Yonhap)