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S. Korea inflation at eight-month high

SEOUL -- South Korea's inflation rate hit an eight-month high in April, government data showed on Thursday, on increases in the cost of oil and industrial goods.

The consumer price index rose 1.5 percent year-on-year, up from 1.3 percent the previous month, according to Statistics Korea.

The rate was slightly lower than the median 1.6 percent increase forecast by analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

Officials at the statistical office attributed the accelerated inflation in April partly to a lower comparison base a year ago when the prices of oil and other industrial goods were falling.

Month on month, the April index was up 0.1 percent after a 0.2 percent rise in March.

The core inflation rate — which excludes volatile oil and food prices — rose 2.3 percent on the year in April following a 2.1 percent increase in March.

The Bank of Korea has estimated an inflation rate of 2.1 percent for 2014, following a 1.3 percent increase in 2013 — the slowest in 14 years.

The central bank has held its key policy rate at 2.5 percent since May last year.

Exports in April stood at US$50.32 billion, led by cars, mobile handsets and memory chips, while imports rose five percent to US$45.85 billion, the trade ministry said.

The country's trade surplus widened to US$4.46 billion from US$2.45 billion a year ago, marking the 27th consecutive month of surplus, the ministry added.

Shipments to the United States soared 19.3 percent year-on-year, while exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) rose 12 percent.

Exports to China, the world's largest importer of South Korean products, were up 2.4 percent.

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