Deputy Bureau Chief for Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Choonsik's Feed
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.

Apr 13, 2015

Financial industry lobby seeks longer Seoul bourse trading hours

SEOUL, April 13 (Reuters) – Trading hours at the South
Korean stock market should be extended by an hour at least so
that they overlap with other regional markets to encourage more
foreign investment, the head of the local financial investment
industry association said.

The market currently closes at 3 pm local time (0600 GMT),
an hour earlier than mainland Chinese markets and two hours
earlier than Hong Kong.

Apr 9, 2015

South Korea teeters on edge of (another) fiscal cliff

SEOUL, April 9 (Reuters) – South Korea’s persistently rosy
assumptions about government finances risk derailing public
spending in a year when exports and other engines of growth are
sputtering.

The government expects its 2015 revenue to rise 8.1 percent
from last year’s actual receipts. But that target is
increasingly looking elusive. The goal is based on assumptions
of 4 percent economic growth and 2 percent inflation, both about
1 percentage point above market estimates. Even the central bank
has lowered its GDP and inflation forecasts. Slower GDP growth
would cut tax revenue, including from corporate income tax,
while lower consumer inflation would dampen revenue growth for
taxes on goods, as their prices increase more slowly.

Apr 9, 2015

Bank of Korea keeps rates on hold as expected, cut seen later

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank kept interest rates untouched on Thursday, as forecast, as the bank widely expected to pause before easing again in a follow-up to its March rate cut.

The Bank of Korea’s monetary policy committee held its base rate KROCRT=ECI steady at 1.75 percent, a media official said without elaborating. Governor Lee Ju-yeol is due to hold a news conference from 11:20 a.m. (03:20 a.m. BST).

Apr 1, 2015

Weak South Korea March exports, inflation add to pressure for more rate cuts

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean exports fell the most in two years in March and inflation hit its lowest since 1999, weakening economic momentum and putting the central bank under pressure to cut interest rates again.

The central bank has said the South Korean economy would pick up in the March quarter after suffering its worst growth in almost six years in October through December, but a recent run of data provided little evidence of a sharp rebound.

Mar 30, 2015

South Korean won on edge as yield premium falls, dividend outflow rises

SEOUL, March 30 (Reuters) – South Korea’s won could be
Asia’s surprise first casualty in any hint of an early rise in
U.S. interest rates as its yield advantage over the dollar has
plunged, while dividend payouts to investors overseas are poised
to surge.

The U.S. dollar’s value has headed upward as the Federal
Reserve gets closer to begin raising its policy interest rate,
whereas South Korea’s central bank is under mounting pressure to
cut its rate even further.

Mar 27, 2015

South Korea sees gains for its infrastructure firms from joining AIIB

SEJONG, South Korea/SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea hopes its infrastructure companies will benefit from the country joining the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the finance ministry said on Friday.

Shares in some iron and steel products makers rose sharply in early trading, partly on hopes for new orders when the AIIB is operational and funding infrastructure projects, which is likely next year. Histeel Co (071090.KS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) rose 14.8 percent and Hanil Iron & Steel (002220.KS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) was up 10.3 percent at 0123 GMT.

Mar 19, 2015

South Korea’s housing market booms – except for prices

SEOUL, March 20 (Reuters) – Ryoo Joong-il joined a million
others in South Korea who bought homes over the past year as
record-low interest rates and market-boosting measures helped
pull the housing market out of a years-long slump.

“I didn’t have a plan for a long time but recently made a
decision as I now think prices will increase further with all
the policy measures,” said Ryoo, 44, as he left a sales office
after signing a contract on an apartment in eastern Seoul.

Mar 19, 2015

S.Korea’s Harim group to expand bulk carrier Pan Ocean by trading grains -chairman

SEONGNAM, South Korea, March 19 (Reuters) – South Korea’s
Harim Group aims to grow sales at the country’s largest bulk
shipper Pan Ocean Co Ltd, which it plans to acquire,
seven times to more than 10 trillion won ($8.97 billion)
annually within five to six years.

The livestock and animal feed group plans to add a grains
trading business to shipper Pan Ocean with the aim of building
it into it a major dealer in the sector, Harim chairman, Kim
Hong-kuk, told Reuters on Thursday.

Mar 12, 2015

South Korea joins global easing with surprise rate cut as growth falters

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank cut interest rates for the first time in five months on Thursday in a surprise move, joining the ranks of other economies which have recently taken advantage of lower inflation to ease monetary policy to spur sluggish growth.

The Bank of Korea’s monetary policy committee, grappling with a weaker-than-expected economic recovery, lowered its base rate by 25 basis points to a record low of 1.75 percent, confounding expectations that it would wait at least another month to see if domestic and export demand improved.