Import prices snap 4-month rise in May on fall in oil prices

South Korea’s import prices ended their four-month gain in May due to a fall in oil prices and the Korean won’s rise against the U.S. dollar, central bank data showed Friday.

The import price index declined 1.4 percent last month from a month earlier following a 3.8 percent on-month gain the previous month, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

From a year earlier, prices also rose 4.6 percent last month following a 2.9 percent on-year advance the previous month, the data showed.

Import prices are a major factor that determines the path of the country’s overall rate of inflation.

The Dubai crude price, South Korea’s benchmark, stood at US$84.04 per barrel in May, down from $89.17 the previous month, according to the central bank.

The Korean won averaged 1,365.39 against the greenback last month, slightly up from 1,367.83 the previous month.

Import prices of raw materials fell 3.7 percent on-month last month, while those for intermediate goods slipped 0.3 percent over the cited

The export price index also fell 0.4 percent in May after a 4.4 percent on-month gain the previous month, according to the data.

The country’s consumer prices, a key gauge of inflation, rose 2.7 percent on-year last month, compared with the 2.9 percent on-year rise a month earlier.

It marked the second straight month that the price growth slowed down and the figure stayed below 3 percent.

Last month, the BOK kept its key interest rate unchanged at 3.5 percent for the 11th straight time. The central bank delivered seven consecutive rate hikes from April 2022 to January 2023.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

1.4K couples to tie the knot in Sorsogon’s ‘Kasalang Bayan’

LEGAZPI CITY: A total of 1,450 indigent couples in Sorsogon province will seal their union in the ‘Kasalang Bayan’ program of the provincial government from June 17 to 20.

In an interview on Friday, Salvador Mendoza, Sorsogon provincial information officer, said the activity aims to help couples who could not pay for their wedding ceremony due to financial constraints but are willing to receive the blessing of matrimony.

The four-day free wedding will be conducted in the towns of Juban, Irosin, Sta. Magdalena, and Bulan on July 17; Prieto Diaz, Bulusan, and Barcelona on July 18; Sorsogon City, Casiguran, and Magallanes on July 19; and Castilla, Pilar, and Gubat on July 20.

“The free wedding will allow the couples to live legally according to the law since most of our couples have been living together for years. Their children can now have the legal rights they deserve. It will also strengthen the foundation of the family,” Mendoza said.

He noted that the provincial government would provide a ring and cake
for every couple to make the ceremony more memorable.

“The local chief executives of different municipalities and one city will serve as the officiating officers during the ceremony,” Mendoza said.

Through the civil registrar of every town, the provincial government provided free applications for all their documentary requirements.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Unification ministry holds talks with anti-Pyongyang leafleting group

The unification ministry on Friday held talks with an activist organization that has launched anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea amid heightened tensions over the North’s reaction to the campaign.

It is the first meeting with such activists by the unification ministry following the North’s launch of more than 1,600 trash-carrying balloons toward the South from May 28 to June 9 in what it has called a “tit-for-tat” response to the leaflets from the South.

A ministry official declined to give details of the closed-door meeting’s discussions but noted the ministry plans to meet with other groups that send anti-Pyongyang leaflets to the North amid concerns over the campaign further increasing tensions.

During the talks, the ministry is said to have not requested the group to refrain from such activities.

“As (we) do not want tensions on the Korean Peninsula, we said we would refrain from public activities,” the head of the organization told Yonhap News Agency by phone. “There weren’t any particular com
ments from the ministry.”

For years, North Korean defectors in the South and conservative activists have sent leaflets to the North via balloons to help encourage North Koreans to eventually rise up against the Kim family regime.

North Korea has bristled at the propaganda campaign amid concern that an influx of outside information could pose a threat to its leader Kim Jong-un.

In response to the North’s recent trash balloon campaign, the South’s military blared anti-Pyongyang broadcasts through its border loudspeakers Sunday for the first time in six years.

The move prompted the North to send more balloons that night, with Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of the North’s leader, warning of unspecified “new counteraction” if the South sends anti-Pyongyang leaflets and plays its border loudspeakers.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Filipino crew of MV Tutor attacked by Houthi rebels still missing

MANILA: A Filipino crew member of MV Tutor, which was attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels while traversing the Southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, is missing, the Department of Migrant Workers said Friday.

In a virtual press briefing, Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac said the Greek-owned bulk carrier have 22 crew members, mostly Filipinos, when its delicate parts and the engine room were damaged during the attack.

‘Right now, we are still in the process of trying to ascertain. We’re trying to account for the particular seafarer in the ship and are praying that we could find him,’ he said.

‘Rest assured that all of the next of kin of the seafarers have been contacted,’ he said.

Cacdac said the other seafarers on board are safe and he had checked with them through a video call.

‘Everybody from the MV Tutor is safe and sound. I saw them personally on the video. Everybody is fine, at least from the video, and they are safe onboard the ship. And having said that, rescue must be undertak
en,’ he said.

Cacdac said they have coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs, manning agency and ship owner.

‘The rescue is forthcoming within the day. I cannot disclose any details with respect to the rescue for security reasons,’ he said.

The Gulf of Aden, including the Red Sea, is included in the expanded high-risk area, to provide better protection to seafarers, including Filipinos, following several attacks by the Houthi rebels.

Earlier this year, the DMW issued an advisory categorizing the ‘warlike and high-risk areas’ where Filipino seafarers have to be given the right to refuse sailing with repatriation and compensation.

In the latest attack, Cacdac said they ‘have been informed that the seafarers did not exercise their right to refuse sailing and had consented to join the voyage.’

Source: Philippines News Agency

Air Incheon reportedly picked as preferred bidder for Asiana Airlines’ cargo unit

Air Incheon Co., South Korea’s cargo airline, has been reportedly selected as the preferred bidder to acquire the cargo division of full-fledged carrier Asiana Airlines Inc., according to industry sources Friday.

The cargo-only airline outbid three competitors — Jeju Air Co., Eastar Jet Co. and Air Premia Inc. — in a bidding process, which started earlier this year.

Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea’s flagship air carrier, which is pursuing a merger with Asiana Airlines, will hold a board meeting next Monday to approve the sale plan of Asiana’s freight unit, the sources said.

Korean Air plans to complete the sale process by the end of this year.

The sale of Asiana Airlines’ cargo division is part of conditions recently set by the European Union due to competition concerns related to the merger.

Korean Air has secured approval from 13 countries and regions, including the EU, and is waiting for final approval from the United States.

Asiana Airlines’ cargo business unit is known to generate revenue of o
ver 1 trillion won (US$749.4 million) annually. The cargo division deal is expected to be concluded at around 500 billion won.

Many of Asiana Airlines’ cargo aircraft are known to be over 30 years old, leading to speculation that the acquiring company will need to invest significantly in large-scale maintenance costs.

Air Incheon is the seventh-largest cargo airline among South Korean air carriers, handling 39,000 tons of freight last year with its fleet of 11 cargo aircraft. It posted 70.7 billion won in revenue in 2023.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Negros Oriental’s May inflation rate down to 3.6 percent

DUMAGUETE CITY: The headline inflation rate of Negros Oriental dropped to 3.6 percent in May compared to 4.7 percent the previous month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Friday.

Jose Ariel Fortuito, PSA-Negros Oriental provincial chief statistical analyst, said the main contributors to the decrease in the inflation rate are housing, water, and electricity; food and non-alcoholic beverages; furnishings, household equipment, and routine household maintenance.

The inflation rate for May 2023 was pegged at 7.3 percent, he noted during a virtual presser Friday.

‘The average inflation from January to May 2024 is 4.7 percent,’ he said.

He said headline inflation is ‘increasing but slower in rate’ because the baseline was in 2018, and prices were much lower then.

The inflation rates the previous months are 4.6 percent in January, 4.5 percent in February and 5.8 percent in March.

The commodity groups that posted lower inflation rates in May are housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels, 3.0
percent from 5.5 percent; food and non-alcoholic beverages, 5.3 percent from 6.5 percent; and furnishings, household equipment, and routine household maintenance, 0.6 percent from 1.2 percent.

Restaurants and accommodation services also dropped to 2.6 percent from 3 percent; alcoholic beverages and tobacco, 2.9 percent from 3.9 percent; and personal care and miscellaneous goods and services, 2.4 percent from 2.7 percent.

Health also lowered to 5.3 percent from 5.6 percent, while clothing and footwear decreased slightly to 1.8 percent from 2.0 percent.

Source: Philippines News Agency