South Korea Consumer Confidence Rises to Eight-Month High

South Korean consumer confidence climbed to the highest level in eight months as incoming President Park Geun Hye pledges to boost economic growth and increase welfare spending.

The sentiment index rose to 102 for January from 99 in December, the Bank of Korea said in an e-mailed statement today. A reading above 100 indicates optimists outnumber pessimists.

Park, who takes office next month, has vowed to create more jobs, improve welfare programs and unveil a fund to help avoid defaults on loans. The central bank kept borrowing costs unchanged at 2.75 percent for a third month on Jan. 11 and reiterated its commitment to support economic growth as it cut its forecast for expansion this year.

South Korea’s economy expanded 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, less than analysts forecast, a Jan. 24 central bank report showed. Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan last week signaled officials may do more to ease currency volatility, aiding exporters such as Samsung Electronics Co. that account for nearly half of gross domestic product.

The central bank from this month started computing consumer confidence data using better representative samples and improved methodology, according to the statement. It also changed the benchmark period for calculating the index to the years 2003 to 2012 from a previous 1999 to 2008 and revised historical data back to July 2008.

The consumer confidence index is based on responses from 2,013 households across the nation. The survey was conducted by post and e-mail from Jan. 11 to Jan. 18.

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