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Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 11:34
Moon flags steps for virus-hit economy, boosting rate cut hopes
By Reuters
Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 11:34 By Reuters

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during his New Year press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Jan 14, 2020. (KIM HONG-JI / POOL PHOTO / AFP)

SEOUL  South Korea President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday the government should make an all-out effort to cushion the economic impact from the novel coronavrius outbreak, boosting expectations of further monetary easing.

Moon said the economy is in an emergency situation and needs a boost to stimulate domestic demand

“(The government) shouldn’t quibble over whether anything is unprecedented or not, rather, we should take every possible measure we can think of on the table to deploy them,” Moon said at a cabinet meeting.

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Moon said the economy is in an emergency situation and needs a boost to stimulate domestic demand.

South Korea’s 3-year treasury bond futures sharply extended gains after Moons’ remarks as investors speculated stimulus measures being rolled out could include an interest rate cut when the Bank of Korea meets on Feb 27.

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In January, the BOK voted 5-2 to keep its benchmark rate steady at 1.25 percent, standing pat for a second meeting following two reductions in July and October last year.

Moon’s comments could add pressure on the central bank to back government policies in the run up to the April 15 general election. In a January survey by Reuters, 14 of 33 analysts saw one more BOK cut through 2020 while 15 saw no change.

In 2015, South Korea drew up a supplementary budget to help cushion the economy from the effects of an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

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