South Korea Consumer Confidence Tumbles to Lowest in 17 Months

(Bloomberg) -- Consumer confidence in South Korea fell in August to the lowest level in 17 months, as a faltering job market and escalating global trade battles took a toll.

The Bank of Korea’s monthly consumer sentiment index dropped to 99.2 in August from 101.0 the previous month, the central bank said in a statement. That was the lowest since March last year, when the country was rattled by a corruption scandal that eventually saw former President Park Geun-hye impeached and imprisoned.

The August reading also marked the first move below the 100 threshold that separates optimism from pessimism since the Park scandal.

Concerns about South Korea’s economic outlook have increased as job growth has slowed and the U.S. and China have escalated their trade battles, the central bank said. Falling stock prices that accompanied turbulence in some emerging economies have also hit sentiment, the BOK said.

The sub-index on how households view the economic outlook fell five points from the previous month. The sub-index on current economic conditions fell seven points -- the biggest drop among sub-indexes -- while that for job opportunity declined two points.

The results were compiled from a survey of 1,937 households conducted August 13-20.

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