S.Korea freezes interest rate at record low

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Seoul, April 13 (IANS) South Korea’s central bank on Thursday froze its benchmark interest rate at an all-time low of 1.25 per cent despite positive signals from the export-driven economy.

Bank of Korea (BOK) Governor Lee Ju-yeol and six other policy board members refrained from altering the seven-day repurchase rate, which has been on hold at the current level since last June, Xinhua news agency reported.

It was in line with market expectations. According to a Korea Financial Investment Association survey of 200 fixed-income experts, 99 per cent had predicted this month’s rate freeze.

Economic indicators have showed signs of recovery.

Exports, which account for about half of the economy, kept a growth momentum for five straight months through March when the overseas shipments posted a double-digit expansion.

Retail sales, which reflect private consumption, increased 3.2 per cent in February from a month earlier.

Revenue in department stores grew 1.7 per cent in March, with credit card usage recording a double-digit increase.

Confidence among South Korean consumers improved as political uncertainty eased following a historic ruling on March 10 to oust President Park Geun-hye following her impeachment in December.

–IANS

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