S.Korea Jan consumer sentiment hits near 3-yr high

SEOUL Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:00pm EST

SEOUL Jan 27 (Reuters) - South Korea's key consumer sentiment index rose to its highest in nearly three years in January, a central bank survey showed on Monday, suggesting private consumption in Asia's fourth-largest economy would hold firm.

The Bank of Korea said in a statement its composite consumer sentiment index, compiled from its monthly survey, climbed to 109 in January from 107 in both December and November.

It was the highest since setting the same 109 level in February 2011.

A reading above 100 indicates positive consumer sentiment about conditions over the coming months compared with the long-term average sentiment accumulated from 2003 to 2013. The index has stayed above 100 since January last year.

The central bank estimated last week the trade-reliant economy expanded by a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent in the final quarter of 2013 over the previous three-month period, led by private consumption.

Meanwhile, the central bank said in the same statement on Monday that the median expected consumer inflation rate for the next 12 months stood at 2.9 percent for a fifth straight month, well above the actual inflation rate of 1.1 percent set in December.

The Bank of Korea said it surveyed more than 2,200 households across the nation from Jan. 13 to 20. (Reporting by Jungmin Jang; Editing by Choonsik Yoo & Kim Coghill)