April 27, 2020 / 9:06 PM / a month ago

Coronavirus hammers South Korean consumer mood; index hits lowest since 2008

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean consumers turned the most pessimistic in more than 11 years in April, a central bank survey found on Tuesday, as the coronavirus pandemic curbed business and social activity, fuelling worries of slowdown in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The composite consumer sentiment index plunged to 70.8 in April, lower than 78.4 the previous month, the Bank of Korea data showed, and the lowest since 67.7 in December 2008.

A reading below 100 means consumer sentiment is weaker than a long-term average that now covers 2003 to 2019, the central bank added.

Sentiment worsened in all six sub-categories, but the index on current economic conditions tumbled to 31 from 38 in March, the lowest since December 2008. The future household spending outlook index also fell to 87, from 93 in the previous month and to its lowest since July 2008.

Consumers’ median inflation expectations for the next 12 months, compiled from the same survey, were unchanged at 1.7% in April.

South Korea has recorded 10,728 virus infections and 242 deaths.

Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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