South Korea's index of import prices rose for five straight months to touch a 42 month-high in May on rising crude oil prices, central bank data showed Tuesday.
In local currency terms, the import price index gained 2.7 percent to 87.09 last month from a year earlier, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).
The May figure is the highest since November 2014 when the index was 91.23, while the on-month gain of 2.7 percent was the largest monthly difference in 18 months. From a year ago, it jumped by 8.1 percent, the biggest on-year change in eight months.
The BOK attributed the increase to a sharp rise in prices of Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, which soared 9 percent on-month to an average of US$74.41 in May. Asia's fourth-largest economy imports 100 percent of its oil.
The price index of imported minerals including crude oil rose 6.1 percent on-month in May, with that of petrochemical goods surging 9.9 percent.
Meanwhile, export prices in terms of local currency edged up 0.9 percent as a steep increase in petrochemical prices was partly offset by a drop in electronics products.
South Korea's exports rose 13.5 percent on-year last month on brisk sales of chips and petrochemical goods, turning around from a 1.5 percent drop in April. Imports also gained 12.6 percent in May. (yonhap)
Kim Sua firstname.lastname@example.org
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