S. Korea’s import prices hit 91-month high in Sept on rising oil price

South Korea’s import prices rose for the fifth straight month to a 91-month high in September on rising international crude oil prices, adding to inflationary pressure.

According to data released by the Bank of Korea on Thursday, the import price index grew 2.4 percent in September from the previous month to 124.58, the highest level since February 2014.

From a year ago, the import price index jumped 26.8 percent, the steepest gain since 32 percent in November 2008 when the global financial crisis hit the country.

The gain in import prices is expected to add inflationary pressure in Korea. The steep rise is due to a surge in international oil prices as well as of intermediate goods such as coal and petroleum products and primary metal products.

The benchmark Dubai crude gained 75 percent on year in September.

The average price of Dubai crude was $72.63 in September, up 4.5 percent from $69.5 in August.

Import prices of mining products jumped 75.5 percent, coal and petroleum products 68.5 percent, primary metal products 35.5 percent, and chemical products 21.3 percent.

Import prices are expected to continue an upward trend given the strong greenback.

Export prices in September also added for a 10th straight month.

The country’s export price index in September gained 1 percent on month and 20.2 percent on year to 114.18, marking its highest level since July 2013.

The price for industrial goods rose 1.0 percent from the previous month and agricultural, forestry, and fishery products 0.6 percent.

The BOK noted that import and export prices rose on surging international oil prices in September and that the upward trend is likely to continue given the strength in raw materials and oil prices in October.

By Ahn Byung-joon and Lee Eun-joo

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