Deputy Bureau Chief for Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Choonsik's Feed
Jun 11, 2015

South Korea cuts rates as MERS clouds outlook; 14 new cases

SEOUL (Reuters) – An outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) forced South Korea to cut interest rates on Thursday in the hope of softening the blow to an economy already burdened by slack demand, as authorities reported 14 new cases.

Worry in South Korea about the disease has been reflected across the region with dozens of suspected cases being tested in Hong Kong, though none confirmed, and many thousands of people cancelling trips to South Korea.

Jun 11, 2015

South Korea cuts rates to record low as government steps up fight against MERS

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank cut its policy rate by 25 basis points to a record-low 1.50 percent on Thursday, as policymakers sought to shield a tottering economy from an outbreak of a deadly respiratory disease.

Nine people have died since the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was first reported in late May, fuelling public anxiety and hitting spending, with thousands in quarantine and hundreds of schools closed.

Jun 11, 2015

S.Korea cuts rates to record low as govt steps up fight against MERS

SEOUL, June 11 (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank cut
its policy rate by 25 basis points to a record-low 1.50 percent
on Thursday, as policymakers sought to shield a tottering
economy from an outbreak of a deadly respiratory disease.

Nine people have died since the outbreak of the Middle East
Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was first reported in late May,
fuelling public anxiety and hitting spending, with thousands in
quarantine and hundreds of schools closed.

Jun 5, 2015

South Korea MERS outbreak heightens pressure for rate cuts

SEOUL, June 5 (Reuters) – An outbreak of a deadly
respiratory disease in South Korea could hurt consumer spending
and tourism and is ramping up the pressure on the nation’s
central bank to cut interest rates as early as next week, a
central bank source said.

“I have a feeling that the outbreak increases the pressure
for a cut,” a Bank of Korea official told Reuters. The official
is not a voting member of the policy committee that will meet on
June 11.

Jun 1, 2015

South Korea May exports worst in 6 yrs, back rate cut view

SEOUL, June 1 (Reuters) – South Korean exports in May
suffered their worst annual fall in nearly six years partly hurt
by a persistent slowdown in China, its biggest export market,
heightening pressure on policy makers to cut interest rates
again.

The gloomy shipments data join poor results from a
private-sector survey on the manufacturing sector, which
analysts say don’t square with the central bank’s forecast for a
pick-up in economic growth in the current quarter.

May 28, 2015

South Korea’s problem: hard on the outside but soft on the inside

SEOUL, May 29 (Reuters) – Even as higher U.S. interest rates
pull funds out of emerging markets, South Korea will probably be
spared from the upheavals caused by a massive capital flight in
2008, because it now has a smaller dependence on overseas funds.
The worry for the economy is more domestic – the country’s
mounting household debt.

Capital inflows – or net foreign investment in local stock
and bond markets plus mostly short-term overseas loans -
totalled $15.5 billion in the year ended March. That’s just
one-third of the $46.2 billion seen a year before the Lehman
Brothers collapse in September 2008 sparked the global financial
crisis. The reduced capital flows into South Korea since then
were due to a sharp drop in short-term overseas borrowings -
classified as “other investment” in the international financial
account – to $400 million from a whopping $31 billion.

May 28, 2015

Industrial hub Ulsan a warning for cooling South Korea

ULSAN, South Korea, May 29 (Reuters) – The port of Ulsan was
the cradle of South Korea’s breakneck industrialisation. Now,
the main production site for big manufacturers such as Hyundai
Motor and oil refiner SK Innovation
risks becoming the country’s rust belt.

In effect, Ulsan is a real-time warning signal for South
Korea, a nation that has the world’s fastest-ageing society and
an economy struggling to shake its dependence on manufacturing
and exports in favour of a model based on consumption and
services.

May 19, 2015

S. Korea doubles stock price trading band, seeks to cut speculative risks

SEOUL, May 19 (Reuters) – South Korea will double the daily
price band for stocks listed on its two main exchanges to allow
them to trade 30 percent higher or lower, a move aimed at
boosting transactions and reducing the risk of markets being
driven by speculative trades.

Under the current system, it is relatively easy for
speculators to push a stock to its upper limit by the end of a
session while spreading expectations for another rally the next
day when they would take profits, Korea Exchange, the market
operator, said in a statement.

Apr 30, 2015

Investors trim bets on further Bank of Korea rate cut

SEOUL, April 30 (Reuters) – Investors have been scaling back
their bets that South Korea’s central bank will cut interest
rates again as inflation and overall growth in Asia’s
fourth-largest economy are seen at or past the worst.

The Bank of Korea surprisingly cut the policy interest rate
by 25 basis points to a record low of 1.75 percent
in March and for some time the market had priced in high chances
for another cut soon. The central bank kept the rate unchanged
in April and will next meet on May 15.

Apr 21, 2015

As Korea’s secondary stock market soars, so do doubts

SEOUL, April 21 (Reuters) – Many of the stocks on South Korea’s
Kosdaq are looking a touch frothy after more than
doubling in price in under four months as retail investors
plough into the market, armed with borrowed funds. Some firms
are now trading at hundreds of times their earnings.

Almost one out of 12 stocks on the secondary board has more
than doubled in price since the start of 2015. More than one in
five are trading at least 50 times their earnings. That compares
with the market’s average price earnings ratio of 21 and the
ratio of 9.94 on the main board Kospi, Thomson Reuters
data shows. Reflecting the gains, the tech-heavy Kosdaq has
risen 30 percent, the most for any four-month period since 2009.