* Bank of Korea cuts base rate by 25 bps to 1.50%
* KOSPI index declines, foreigners net buyers
* Korean won strengthens versus U.S. dollar
* South Korea benchmark bond yield falls
* For the midday report, please click
SEOUL, July 18 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial markets: ** 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 won turned higher with forex dealers suspecting smoothing operations by authorities to curb the currency’s weakness, while the benchmark bond yield fell. ** 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%. ** Though the rate cut came earlier than market consensus, uncertainties over Japan’s export controls and worries over Sino-U.S. 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% in 2019, slowing from 2.5% seen earlier. It also trimmed this year’s inflation forecast to 0.7% from 1.1% seen previously.
** The trade dispute between South Korea and Japan has shown scant signs of fading. Tokyo is considering taking the dispute with South Korea over its compensation for wartime forced labourers to the International Court of Justice, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. ** The Seoul stock market’s main KOSPI index closed down 6.37 points, or 0.31%, at 2,066.55 points. ** Shares of YG Entertainment, which manages top K-pop performers, closed 2% lower, after local media reported a former chief producer for the company had been booked by the local police on allegations that he arranged sex services for foreign investors.
** Foreigners were net buyers of 71.3 billion won ($60.51 million) worth of shares on the main board.
** The won was quoted at 1,178.8 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.21% higher than its previous close at 1,181.3.
** In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,178.1 per U.S. dollar, up 0.1% from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,177.5 per dollar.
** MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.27%, after U.S. stocks slipped . Japanese stocks fell 1.97%.
** The KOSPI has risen 1.25% so far this year, and gained 0.3% in the previous 30 trading sessions.
** The current price-to-earnings ratio is 12.10, the dividend yield is 1.28% and the market capitalisation is 1,242.04 trillion won.
** The trading volume during the session on the KOSPI index was 437.18 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 895, the number of advancing shares was 323.
** The won has lost 5.4% against the U.S dollar so far this year.
** In money and debt markets, September futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.17 points to 110.77, while the 3-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.62%.
** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 5.1 basis points to 1.348%, while the benchmark 10-year yield declined by 7.7 basis points to 1.471%. ($1 = 1,178.2300 won) (Reporting by Hayoung Choi, Yena Park; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)