Business

South Korea stocks fall as economy slows

Two currency exchange vendors sit before their stalls as they wait for customers at a market in Seoul Image copyright AFP/Getty

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.