SEOUL, Feb 14 (Reuters) - South Korea's central bank held interest rates steady for a fourth straight month on Thursday, in line with with market expectations, as the world's biggest economies show signs of improvement and domestic inflation remains low.
The Bank of Korea's monetary policy committee held its base rate steady at 2.75 percent, a media official said without elaborating. Governor Kim Choong-soo is due to hold a news conference from 11:20 a.m. (0220 GMT).
- Full story
- Reuters survey: Seventeen out of 21 analysts surveyed by Reuters forecast the Bank of Korea holding its base rate steady on Thursday, while the remaining four saw a cut.
KIM SANG HOON, FIXED INCOME ANALYST HANA DAETOO SECURITIES
'The biggest reason for a rate cut for now would have been the strength trend of won. But it has eased and the economy is not in a bad enough state to warrant a rate cut. External factors are not as unfavorable as they were and market uncertainty concerns are decreasing. As long as the strong won trend does not persist, which I think is highly unlikely, the BOK will hold rates steady for all of 2013.'
LEE JAE-SEUNG, FIXED-INCOME ANALYST, KB INVESTMENT & SECURITIES
'There were a few forecasts of a rate cut this month due to currency moves, but as of now the currency moves are not at a level to entirely justify a monetary policy countermeasure.'
'We see the Bank of Korea holding rates throughout the first half of 2013 as signs of a economic recovery are expected to gain more traction towards the end of the year, while the G20 meeting later this week is expected to put a further brake on the yen's weakness.'
IM NO-JUNG, CHIEF ECONOMIST, IM INVESTMENT & SECURITIES
'Concerns on external factors like the U.S. fiscal issue and the Eurozone have eased compared to last year. I thought the central bank could cut rates this month to give a boost to the domestic economy. But the central bank might have considered external conditions more.
'Still, there's a possibility for the cut in the first quarter.'
- Bond prices were little changed after the Bank of Korea's rate decision, as the central bank was widely expected to hold.
- Lead March futures on three-year treasury bonds were down 0.07 points at 106.27 as of 0128 GMT. The won was up 0.2 percent against the dollar, and Seoul sharess were up 0.1 percent at 1,977.07.
- South Korea's exports rose 11.8 percent in January from a year earlier and imports grew 3.9 percent, both topping market expectations while industrial output in December beat expectations to growth for a fourth straight month.
- A private manufactoring sector survey said new export orders received grew for the first time in eight months in January, boding well for the export-led economy.
- Asia's fourth-largest economy isn't seen in the clear yet, as weak domestic demand is seen to continue with inflation staying far below the lower end of the central bank's target band and housing prices falling for a seventh consecutive month in January.
- South Korea's new president Park Geun-hye takes office on Feb. 25 and she has vowed to help create jobs and ease household debt burdens but has yet to announce details on future policy.
(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer and David Chance) Keywords: KOREA ECONOMY/RATES
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