© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Office workers pick up lunch boxes at a convenience store in Seoul, South Korea, June 24, 2022. Picture taken June 24, 2022. REUTERS/ Heo Ran

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s consumer inflation eased for a fourth consecutive month in May to its slowest pace in 19 months, data showed on Friday, matching market expectations.

The consumer price index rose 3.3% in May year-on-year, the Statistics Korea data showed, compared with a 3.7% rise in the previous month and in line with 3.3% forecast in a Reuters survey.

It marked the slowest rise since October 2021, having peaked at a near 24-year high of 6.3% in July 2022.

On a monthly basis, the index rose 0.3% in May, after a 0.2% increase in April, extending its run of gains to a sixth consecutive month.

The finance ministry said after the data release inflation would continue to stabilise going forward.

However, the central bank said the inflation outlook was highly uncertain, citing risks from global oil prices, economic growth and public utility price increases.

By product, agricultural prices rose 0.5% in May month-on-month, while utility prices jumped 2.2%. Petroleum products dropped 1.4%, however, dragging the annual rate lower.

The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was 3.9% higher in May year-on-year and marked the slowest increase in 10 months.

It was the second straight month that the annual core inflation rate stayed above the headline rate, following its 4.0% rise in the previous month.

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