South Korea's consumer sentiment fell in May from a month earlier with more people expecting worsening conditions for their livelihoods down the road in the wake of revamps in the corporate sector, central bank data showed Thursday.
The composite consumer sentiment index (CSI) came to 99 for May, moving down from 101 the previous month, according to data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). The figure marks the lowest since February.
A reading above 100 means optimists outnumber pessimists, while a reading below the benchmark means the opposite. Consumer sentiment had remained rather gloomy since the beginning of the year with the index dipping to 98 in February, down from 100 registered in January, according to South Korea's (Yonhap) News Agency. But it has improved slightly for the second straight month on the back of signs of improvement in domestic demand.
The local economy, the fourth-largest in Asia, has been struggling with sluggish spending and sagging exports. South Korea's exports dropped every single month since the start of last year. "Consumers' sentiment seems to have worsened due to corporate restructuring issues," a BOK official said.
The country's shipping and shipbuilding sectors, saddled with mounting losses and a protracted slump, are forced to cut costs and realign their business portfolios. An index measuring people's sentiment toward their future livelihoods came to 96 in May, down from 98 the previous month. A separate index gauging people's expectations about hiring also dropped to 74 in May from 82 the previous month, marking the lowest since March 2009, when the comparable figure was 55. The Bank of Korea said it surveyed some 2,000 households in the country from May 12 to 19.