S.Korea Aug consumer sentiment steady for third month

SEOUL Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:00pm EDT

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SEOUL Aug 27 (Reuters) - South Korea's key consumer sentiment index was unchanged in August for a third consecutive month at a year-long high as South Koreans remained optimistic on living standards, a central bank survey showed on Tuesday.

The survey contrasts markedly with recent consumption and earnings data, suggesting South Koreans' may feel better about the economy but are still hesitant to spend.

The composite consumer index (CCSI) was measured at 105 in August, matching readings posted in July and June, according to Bank of Korea data. It was the highest since May last year.

A reading above 100 indicates that consumers who expect economic and living conditions to improve in the coming month outnumber those who expect them to worsen.

Sales in department and discount store sales fell simultaneously in annual terms in July for the first time in three months, dimming South Korea's third quarter outlook.

South Korean households' disposable income grew in the second quarter this year for a ninth consecutive quarter but household consumption spending continued to fall on an uncertain outlook.

Meanwhile, the median expected inflation rate for the next 12 months rose for a second straight month to 3.0 percent in August from 2.9 percent in July.

It was the highest since the estimate of 3.1 percent in April this year, with more than half the respondents saying public utility costs were most likely to drive up inflation.

The Bank of Korea said its sentiment and expectations survey gathered responses from nearly 2,000 households across the nation from Aug. 12 to 20. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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