SEOUL, June 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's consumer prices rose 2. 5 percent in May from a year earlier, staying below the midpoint of Bank of Korea (BOK)'s inflation target band of 2-4 percent, a report showed Friday.
Consumer prices advanced 2.5 percent in May from a year before, unchanged from a 2.5 percent on-year gain tallied in the previous month, according to Statistics Korea. From a month earlier, the prices were up 0.2 percent.
The consumer price growth stayed at the 2 percent range for three straight months last month, boosting expectations that the easing inflationary pressures would weigh less on the BOK's normalization of the policy rate. The central bank kept the policy rate at 3.25 percent last month for 11 straight months.
Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile agricultural and oil product prices, rose 1.6 percent on-year in May, down from a 1. 8 percent on-year advance in the previous month, while the OECD- method core CPI, excluding food and energy prices, gained 1.5 percent last month, down from a 1.6 percent increase in April.
The stable consumer prices were mainly attributed to the persistent policy effect amid lower global oil prices. The South Korean government was offering subsidies for school meals and childcare fees, sending the private sector prices to remain at the low level.
Service sector prices rose 1.3 percent in May from a year earlier. Public service prices gained 0.6 percent on-year in May, with private service charges advancing 0.6 percent last month, down from a 0.7 percent rise tallied in April.
Prices for using childcare facilities plunged 34.0 percent on- year in May, and prices for school meal tumbled 19.3 percent as the government widened its free school meal program. Preschool tuitions dropped 11.1 percent over the same period, and telecommunication fees retreated 6.4 percent as domestic wireless carriers lowered their service charges in a bid to meet the government's efforts to tame inflation.
Manufactured product prices grew at a slower pace amid lower oil prices. Prices for manufactured products rose 3.5 percent on- year in May, down from a 3.8 percent rise tallied in the previous month. Petroleum product prices jumped 7.1 percent in May from a year earlier, but the prices fell 0.3 percent on an on-month basis due to the recent fall in oil prices. Pharmaceutical product prices declined dropped 12.6 percent on-year last month, contributing to the stable inflation.
Prices for agricultural, fishery and livestock products advanced 7.4 percent on-year in May. A fall in livestock product prices continued to offset steady rise in agricultural product prices. Prices of livestock products sank 9.5 percent on-year in May, but agricultural product prices jumped 17.6 percent over the cited period.
The fresh food price index, a gauge of fruits and vegetables, climbed 13.9 percent on-year in May, up from a 6.9 percent rise tallied in the previous month. Fresh fruit prices jumped 14.2 percent, and vegetable prices surged 25.5 percent.
Prices for electricity, water and gas gained 3.9 percent on- year in May, down from a 5.8 percent rise in April.