South Korea stocks fall as econ­omy slows

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

South Korean stocks are fall­ing af­ter fresh data showed Asia's fourth-largest econ­omy is con­tin­u­ing to slow down.

Gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) rose a sea­son­ally ad­justed 0.7% dur­ing the fi­nal three months of 2015, which is slightly faster than an ear­lier cen­tral bank es­ti­mate for a 0.6% in­crease.

How­ever, the fig­ure still re­flects a marked slow­down from the 1.2% growth dur­ing the pre­vi­ous quar­ter.

The bench­mark Kospi Index fell 0.1% to close at 1,983.81 points. The Bank of Korea has kept in­ter­est rates on hold again this month, de­spite con­cerns about slow­ing growth and un­em­ploy­ment.

Most ma­jor Asian mar­kets, with the ex­cep­tion of Korea, Ja­pan and China, are closed today for the Easter holiday.

Ja­pan's bench­mark Nikkei 225 closed 0.7% higher at 17,002.75, while the broader Topix ended up 0.8% at 1,366.05. This comes af­ter data showed Ja­pan may be mak­ing some progress in push­ing up con­sumer prices.

Head­line in­fla­tion rose 0.3% year-on-year in Fe­bru­ary, com­pared to zero the month ear­lier, match­ing econ­o­mist es­ti­mates.

Over in China, mar­kets were mixed. The Shang­hai Com­pos­ite closed up 0.62% to 2,979.43, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng bench­mark closed down 1.31% to 20,345.61.

Mean­while, Myan­mar's new stock ex­change be­gins its first day of trad­ing today.

The bourse was launched in the cap­i­tal Yan­gon three months ago, but as the BBC's Jonah Fisher re­ports, al­most noth­ing has hap­pened since then be­cause only one com­pany is listed. Shares of a con­glom­er­ate called FMI, are avail­able only to Burmese in­vestors.

Those back­ing the ex­change are hop­ing more com­pa­nies will list soon, and that it will be­come an im­por­tant source of cap­i­tal for an econ­omy still emerg­ing from decades of mis­man­age­ment.

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