SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s consumer sentiment fell for the first time in three months in December due to tougher antivirus measures and worsened economic expectations, central bank data showed Tuesday.

The composite consumer sentiment index (CCSI) came in at 89.8 for December, down 8.1 points from the previous month, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The latest reading marks the first on-month drop following two consecutive months of increase.

A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.

The BOK said consumer sentiment in Asia’s fourth-largest economy worsened on account of tougher social distancing measures following a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

This undated file photo shows apartment complexes in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The central bank conducted its consumer sentiment survey between Dec. 10-17 when the country’s third surge of infections was in full swing.

South Korea has been applying Level 2.5 social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area, home to half of its 51.6 million population, and Level 2 rules in the rest of the country, since Dec. 8 in a desperate bid to stem the spike in COVID-19 cases.

The anti-coronavirus measures have battered self-employed small merchants, as well as the manufacturing and service industries.

The subindex for people’s assessment of current economic conditions plunged by 16 points to 56 in December, and the index gauging people’s sentiment toward future economic conditions reached 81 this month, up from 91 in November.

Meanwhile, the subindex for future home prices came to a new record high of 132 for December, which was also up 2 points from November, amid a recent upturn in apartment prices, according to the data.