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South Korea: Stocks fall as investors shrug off rate cut

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South Korean shares ended lower on Thursday, as the central bank's surprise rate cut underscored growth worries amid a prolonged trade conflict between the United States and China, and Japan's export curbs. 

[SEOUL] South Korean shares ended lower on Thursday, as the central bank's surprise rate cut underscored growth worries amid a prolonged trade conflict between the United States and China, and Japan's export curbs. 

The Seoul stock market's main KOSPI index closed down 6.37 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 2,066.55 points.

South Korea's central bank delivered a surprise interest rate cut, and shaved this year's growth forecast to the lowest in a decade, as a brewing dispute with Japan piled more pressure on the trade-dependent economy.

The bank cut the base rate by 25 basis points to 1.50 per cent. 

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Market voices on:

Though the rate cut came earlier than market consensus, uncertainties over Japan's export controls and worries over Sino-US trade negotiations had a larger impact, said Noh Dong-kil, an analyst with NH Investment & Securities, in a note. As the cut was in response to the sluggish economy, the impact was limited in the stock market, he added. 

The Bank of Korea estimated the economy to expand 2.2 per cent in 2019, slowing from 2.5 per cent seen earlier. It also trimmed this year's inflation forecast to 0.7 per cent from 1.1 per cent seen previously.

The KOSPI has risen 1.25 per cent so far this year, and gained 0.3 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions.

REUTERS