February 27, 2020 / 2:18 AM / a month ago

S.Korea stocks retreat on spike in virus cases; BOK stays put

    * KOSPI gives up early gains, foreigners net sellers
    * Korean won strengthens versus U.S. dollar
    * South Korea benchmark bond yield rises
    * Central bank holds fire on rate cut despite coronavirus

    SEOUL, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial
South Korean stocks turned lower on Thursday following reports
of a massive spike in new coronavirus cases, shortly after the
central bank's unexpected decision to stand pat on the base
rates. The Korean won and the benchmark bond yield strengthened.
** As of 0207 GMT, the Seoul stock market's main KOSPI        
was down 17.60 points, or 0.85%, at 2,059.17. Earlier in the
session, the index rose as much as 0.4%. 
** South Korea's central bank kept interest rates unchanged on
Thursday, dashing expectations for a cut, even as the rapid
spread of the coronavirus in Asia's fourth-largest economy
threatened to derail growth. A majority of economists had
expected the Bank of Korea to cut rates to head off the virus
** The downside risks caused by the virus cases would weigh on
corporate earnings, which sent the benchmark index lower, said
Lee Won, an analyst at Bookook Securities. 
** South Korea on Thursday reported 449 newly confirmed
coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the biggest daily surge,
raising the total tally to 1,595.                          
** Foreigners were net sellers of 212.4 billion won ($174.53
million) worth of shares on the main board. 
** The won was quoted at 1,215.4 per dollar on the onshore
settlement platform           , 0.12% higher than its previous
close at 1,216.9.
** Right after the government reported a spike in new virus
cases, the currency briefly turned weaker against the dollar. 
** In offshore trading, the won        was quoted at 1,215.7 per
U.S. dollar, down 0.3% from the previous session, while in
non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract
              was quoted at 1,214.3 per dollar.
** MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
                was down 0.41%, after U.S. stocks were mixed
overnight. Japanese stocks         fell 1.78%.            
** The KOSPI dropped 6.17% so far this year, and lost 6.8% in
the previous 30 trading sessions.
** The trading volume during the session in the KOSPI index
        was 209.19 million shares. Of the total traded issues of
898, the number of advancing shares was 220.
** The won weakened 4.9% against the dollar so far this year.
** In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year
treasury bonds         fell 0.05 points to 111.25, while the
3-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.41%.
** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 2.5
basis points to 1.159%, while the benchmark 10-year yield
climbed 0.3 basis points to 1.396%.    

    ($1 = 1,216.9800 won)    

 (Reporting by Hayoung Choi, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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