SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s consumer sentiment continued to improve this month from a month earlier, reaching the second-highest point since the country reported its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus six months earlier, central bank data showed Wednesday.

The country’s composite consumer sentiment index came to 84.2 in July, up 2.4 points from the previous month, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The reading marks the highest since 96.9 posted February. South Korea reported its first COVID-19 infection on Jan. 20.

A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.

“The consumer sentiment index rose 2.4 points from a month earlier in July despite a upward trend in the number of COVID-19 infections, as social distancing measures are maintained at the (lowest) level in most areas while the government is pushing active steps to minimize the economic fallout of the pandemic,” the BOK said.

The country has so far secured three supplementary budgets, totaling over 55 trillion won (US$45.9 billion), to support the economy reeling from the global outbreak of the potentially deadly virus.

South Korea’s exports have dropped for four consecutive months as of June, with outbound shipments expected to again shrink from a year earlier this month.

People still saw improvements this month, with a subindex measuring their sentiment toward current economic conditions coming to 49 for July, up from 44 last month.

The index on people’s sentiment toward their livelihood also climbed to 85 from 84 over the cited period.

The index on their sentiment toward future economic conditions, on the other hand, remained unchanged from a month earlier at 70.

People anticipated a steady increase in home prices, with the index measuring their outlook on home prices one year from now jumping 13 points from a month earlier to 125 in July.

The monthly index is based on a survey of 2,500 households throughout the nation, 2,376 of which offered responses to this month’s poll conducted between July 10-17.