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BOK not mulling further rate cut over coronavirus: official

Bank of Korea Senior Deputy Gov. Yoon Myun-shik speaks to reporters at the headquarters of the central bank in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Bank of Korea Senior Deputy Gov. Yoon Myun-shik speaks to reporters at the headquarters of the central bank in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

The nation’s central bank is not considering additional rate cuts to counter the potential impact of the Wuhan coronavirus on the Korean economy, a senior official said Thursday.

“We need to keep monitoring the outbreak. Although it is expected to affect sentiment and the market, including the country’s economic growth, consumer prices and current account, it’s too early to predict the extent of its impact,” Yoon Myun-shik, senior deputy governor of the Bank of Korea, told reporters after a meeting at the bank’s headquarters in central Seoul.

The central bank had cut rates after the outbreaks of the severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2015.

“(The BOK) makes decisions not based on (the impact of) infectious diseases like MERS and the new coronavius, but by considering various factors including the economy, consumer prices and financial stability,” he said.

The remarks came hours after the US Federal Reserve left its interest rates unchanged -- putting the current federal funds rate target range at 1.5-1.75 percent.

The Fed expressed concerns that the virus may create uncertainty and threaten global economic activity, though US Fed Chair Jerome Powell said it was too early to know the macroeconomic effects.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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