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March 3, 2021, 6:41 p.m. EST

South Korea inflation accelerates to one-year high

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By Kwanwoo Jun

South Korea's headline inflation accelerated at a faster-than-expected pace to hit a one-year high in February but still stayed below the central bank's 2% target.

The benchmark consumer-price index gained 1.1% from a year earlier after the prior month's 0.6% rise, said the statistical office Thursday.

The latest reading--the highest since February in 2020--was above the median forecast of fives economists polled by The Wall Street Journal for a 1.0% increase in February.

The stronger-than-expected inflation was largely led by higher oil and agricultural-product prices, according to the office.

Compared with the prior month, the index gained 0.5% in February, beating the market expectations for a 0.4% rise. The latest reading followed the previous month's 0.8% increase.

Core CPI, which strips out volatile energy and food prices, rose 0.3% in February from a year ago, following the January pace of rising 0.4%. It edged up 0.1% from a month ago, compared with the 0.4% rise in January.

The Bank of Korea expects inflation to average 1.3% for this year, faster than 0.5% in 2020.

Write to Kwanwoo Jun at kwanwoo.jun@wsj.com

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