UPDATE 1-S.Korea May housing prices up for 9th mth - bank data

Fri May 30, 2014 8:20am EDT

(Adds details, reason for gloomy outlook)

By Choonsik Yoo

SEOUL May 30 (Reuters) - Housing prices across South Korea rose for a ninth consecutive month in May from April, data from a top local mortgage lender showed on Friday, helping ease concerns about weakening consumer confidence.

Data that Kookmin Bank posted on its website showed its nationwide housing price index rose 0.07 percent in May from April, the ninth monthly gain in a row although slowing from a 0.21 percent gain in April.

Over a year earlier, the index gained 1.38 percent in May after a 1.30 percent annual rise in April, the data showed.

Kookmin's housing price data is widely used in South Korea as an official indicator. The bank usually releases monthly housing price data on the first working day each month and May data was expected to be published on Monday.

Doubts were growing about the strength of domestic demand in Asia's fourth-largest economy after a central bank survey showed on Monday its key consumer sentiment index slipped to an eight-month low of 105 in May from 108 in April.

Government officials have said consumer confidence could be hit by the gloomy mood spreading across the country after the capsizing of a ferry last month that killed more than 300 passengers, the worst civilian maritime disaster in two decades.

Analysts were divided, however, over how long and how significantly the largely sentimental shocks from the disaster would drag on the macro-economic performance. (Editing by Nick Macfie and Ron Popeski)