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Asian Markets Mixed; Bank of Korea Keeps Rates Unchanged

By Alex Ho

Investing.com - Asian markets were mixed on Thursday morning. South Korea’s central unexpectedly left rates unchanged, dashing hopes for a cut.

The KOSPI lost 0.9% by 11:20 PM ET (03:20 GMT). The Bank of Korea’s policy board held the base rate steady at 1.25% today, despite expectations that it would cut rates to ease the impact of the virus. The central bank slashed rates in July and October last year.

“We think the BOK will still respond to the pandemic shock this time, but in a reactive rather than pre-emptive manner,” said Ma Tieying, a DBS economist, in a CNBC report.

South Korea recently recorded a surge in new coronavirus cases. The number of cases rose above 1,500 today from just around 31 in a little more than a week, according to government data.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 plunged 2.3%. The country’s industrial production, jobs, and retail sales figures are due on Friday.

China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.6% and the SZSE Component gained 1.2% after the World Health Organization said overnight that the number of daily new coronavirus cases outside China exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1%.

Down under Australia’s ASX 200 traded 0.7% lower.

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