SEOUL, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s consumer sentiment fell by the most in six months in September as economic uncertainty heightened amid a flare-up in coronavirus cases, central bank data showed Friday.

The composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI) came in at 79.4 for September, down 8.8 points from 88.2 recorded for August, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The reading marks the largest on-month fall since March when the index declined by 18.5 points due to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The September tally also marked the first decline since April when it fell 7.6 points to 70.8.

A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.

“Consumer sentiment declined in September as the outlook for the economy and households’ financial conditions worsened amid the resurgence in virus cases and tougher virus curbs,” the BOK said.

New coronavirus cases had been in the triple digits for more than a month since Aug. 14, with daily infections soaring to 441 on Aug. 27.

To contain the fast spread of the virus, the country adopted an enhanced social distancing scheme in the densely populated Seoul area on Aug. 30 and applied the so-called Level 2.5 measures for two weeks.

The BOK trimmed its growth outlook and froze the key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent in late August as uncertainties stemming from spiking virus cases heightened.

The index on people’s assessment of current economic conditions fell by 12 points to 42 in September, and the index gauging people’s sentiment toward future economic conditions reached 66 this month, down from 75 in August.

The index measuring the outlook for housing prices fell eight points to 117 in September on the effect of the government’s measures to stabilize the housing market, the BOK said.