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South Korea: Stocks shed 4% as spreading virus darkens growth outlook

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The benchmark KOSPI closed down 3.87 per cent, marking the sharpest one-day fall since early October 2018.

[SEOUL] South Korean stocks slumped nearly 4 per cent and the won slid on Monday, as the unabating spread of the coronavirus heightened concerns about the toll on Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The government on Monday reported 161 new virus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 763. The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also reported the seventh death from the virus.

The rising cases outside of China, where the oubreak originated, have fanned worries over global supply chain disruptions and fuelled demand for safe haven assets.

The benchmark KOSPI closed down 3.87 per cent, marking the sharpest one-day fall since early October 2018. The index has fallen for three sessions in a row and ended at its lowest since Dec 5, 2019.

"At this rate, South Korea's first-quarter GDP will apparently contract from the previous quarter," said Byun Juno, chief of the research centre at Eugene Investment & Securities.

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"If a rate cut is inevitable during the first half of 2020, the Bank of Korea is increasingly likely to cut the rate preemptively this week," he added. The central bank is due to hold a monetary policy review on Thursday.

REUTERS

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