South Korea's consumer prices hit 27 month high in February

South Korea's consumer prices hit a 27 month high in February mainly due to higher food and oil-related costs, a government report showed Wednesday.

South Korea's consumer price index (CPI) jumped 4.5% in February from a year earlier, after gaining 4.1% in January, Statistics Korea said in the report.

The February reading breached the central bank's 4% ceiling for the second consecutive month and stayed much higher than the government's inflation target of 3%.

It posted the highest level since 4.5% in November 2008.

Core CPI, which excludes oil and agricultural products, rose 3.1% in February from a year earlier, the highest since 3.1% in August 2009, according to the report.

The core consumer prices increased 2.6% on-year in January. The inflation reading comes amid the South Korean government's efforts to ease inflationary pressures by decreasing import taxes on some items, unloading stockpiles of agricultural products and cracking down on price rigging in the corporate sector.

Surging prices in oil and agricultural products led the latest consumer inflation amid concerns over the rising oil prices stemming from the political turmoil in the Middle East.

Prices for agricultural, dairy and fisheries goods climbed 17.7% in February from a year before, the report showed. Oil products rose 12.8% last month on a on-year basis, adding cost burdens for factories to produce goods.

The fresh food price index, a gauge of vegetables and fruits, soared 25.5% in February from a year earlier, keeping its 2 digit up-trend for the 9th consecutive month.-Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.