March 26, 2014 / 9:01 PM / in 3 years

S.Korea March consumer sentiment index unchanged from February

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SEOUL, March 27 (Reuters) - South Korea's key consumer sentiment index held steady in March from the previous month, reinforcing signs of recovering confidence in the economy, a central bank survey showed on Thursday.

The Bank of Korea said in a statement its composite consumer sentiment index, compiled from its monthly survey, stood at 108 in March.

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

The same survey showed South Korean's median expected consumer inflation rate for the next 12 months ticked down to 2.8 percent, the survey's lowest since June 2013.

The expected inflation rate had stayed at 2.9 percent for six months from September last year to February and well above actual annual inflation of 1.0 percent last month.

Respondents said public utility costs would have the biggest influence on inflation in the coming year, followed by manufactured goods and housing costs.

Central bank and government officials have said price pressures in South Korea will pick up this year, with the Bank of Korea expecting inflation of 2.8 percent in the second half of 2014.

The Bank of Korea forecasts South Korea's economic growth will accelerate to 3.8 percent this year from an estimated 2.8 percent in 2013. The central bank will release revised economic forecasts next month. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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