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Fed taper to have limited impact on Korean market

First Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon spaeks during a meeting on macroeconomics at the Bank Hall in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
First Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon spaeks during a meeting on macroeconomics at the Bank Hall in Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
The US Federal Reserve’s decision to dial back its bond-purchasing program in November will have a limited impact on the Korean financial market, the Korean government said Thursday while vowing to monitor market uncertainties surrounding the inflation outlook in the US.

As widely expected, the Federal Open Market Committee, the US Fed’s monetary policymaking body, announced that it would reduce its bond purchases by a total of $15 billion a month starting in November.

It left its benchmark rate unchanged at a target range of between 0 percent and 0.25 percent, citing the need for a labor market recovery.

“The global financial markets are expected to easily digest the result from the FOMC,” First Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon said during a meeting on macroeconomics.

After opening 1 percent higher, the benchmark Kospi closed at 2,983.95 points, up 0.28 percent from the previous session.

The Korean currency was trading at 1,182.40 won against the greenback, down 0.03 percent.

“If global inflation anchors longer than expected, it could cause market uneasiness due to uncertainty about the pace of the global economic recovery, and major economies’ monetary policy directions,” Lee said.

Bank of Korea Deputy Gov. Park Jong-seok echoed Lee’s remarks. “The results of the FOMC meeting were generally in line with market expectations, and the international financial market was stable.”

Korea’s central bank is forecast to raise its base rate at a rate-setting meeting in November to curb inflation and household debt.

The BOK froze the benchmark rate at 0.75 percent last month after raising it from a record low of 0.5 percent in August.

“However, as uncertainty related to policy decisions such as tapering speed and the timing of interest rate hikes is still high due to concerns about future inflation,” he said, emphasizing that there is room for changes in policy conditions in the future.

For the sovereign bond market, which has shown excessive volatility amid global inflation risks and talks of tapering stimulus measures, the government has decided to take several actions.

In October alone, the three-year government bond yield jumped by 51 basis points, more than double of the US’ 24 basis points, to top 2.1 percent for the first time in three years.

It cut its sale of state bonds with three-year maturities for November to 8 trillion won ($6.77 billion) from 12.5 trillion won issued in October.

The government also plans to buy back 2 trillion won worth of government bonds, chiefly those with midterm maturities, on Friday to stabilize the bond market.

It will be in addition to another 2 trillion won worth of buyback on Wednesday to smooth peaks in their maturity profile, putting the total bond buyback this week at an equivalent of 4 trillion won.

“The programs are expected to have positive effects such as easing supply and demand conditions and improving market sentiment,” he said.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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