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South Korea holds interest rate despite virus fears

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South Korea's central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged on Thursday, defying expectations for a cut amid growing pressure to ease policy as the coronavirus hits demand in the export-reliant economy.

[SEOUL] South Korea's central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged on Thursday, defying expectations for a cut amid growing pressure to ease policy as the coronavirus hits demand in the export-reliant economy.

The Bank of Korea's Monetary Policy Board held the benchmark interest rate at 1.25 per cent, in contrast to a Reuters poll that expected a quarter percentage point cut.

Only 10 out of 26 economists saw the bank standing pat this week. The other 16 predicted the bank to cut to an all-time low and for a third time.

Governor Lee Ju Yeol holds a news conference at 0220 GMT that is expected to be livestreamed via YouTube to limit crowds and contain the spread of the coronavirus.

REUTERS