Consumer sentiment rebounds in March

Consumer sentiment rebounds in March

Korean consumers’ sentiment improved in March, ending a three-month spell of deterioration, central bank data showed Tuesday.

The Bank of Korea’s composite consumer sentiment index ticked up to 100 for March, from February’s 98, which was the lowest level in eight months. The index had moved from 105 in November to 102 in December and 100 in January.

A reading above 100 means optimists outnumber pessimists, while a reading below the benchmark means the opposite.

“The stabilizing mood in global and local financial markets seems to have affected consumer sentiment,” a BOK official explained.

Included in the composite index is a gauge of measuring people’s sentiment toward their future livelihood which also showed a slight improvement from 90 in February to 91 in March. Another measure gauging the people’s expectations for their income level six months from now also gained a point to 99 over the cited period.

The consumer sentiment index is the first of major economic indicators scheduled for release this week that markets are keenly watching for any sign of improvements in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, after tougher than expected first two months this year.

Markets now await February industrial output data to be out Thursday and updates on exports and consumer prices for the current month scheduled for Friday. Industrial production fell for a third consecutive month in January, while exports plunged 12.2 percent in February from a year ago, extending their period of monthly declines to the longest stretch on record.

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