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April 1, 2020, 7:37 p.m. EDT

South Korea's inflation slows slightly in March

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By Kwanwoo Jun

South Korea's consumer inflation slowed marginally in March with the coronavirus pandemic weighing on price growth.

The benchmark consumer-price index gained 1.0% from a year earlier after the prior month's 1.1% rise, said the statistical office Thursday.

The median forecast of seven economists polled by The Wall Street Journal was for a 0.9% increase in March.

Compared with the prior month, the index fell 0.2% in March, compared with the median forecast of a 0.3% fall. The latest reading followed being flat in the previous month.

Core CPI, which strips out volatile energy and food prices, rose 0.4% in March from a year ago, slower than the February pace of rising 0.5%. It edged down 0.2% from a month ago, compared with the 0.1% gain in February.

Businesses are facing weak demand and consumer spending as lockdowns and social-distancing measures to contain the virus intensify in society.

The Bank of Korea expects the country's inflation to average 1.0% this year--below its 2% annual target.

Inflation averaged 0.4% in 2019, slower than 1.5% in 2018.

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

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