Seoul shares hit 3-wk low after c.bank rate decision disappoints
* Central bank misses timing to cut rates - analyst
* Financials, steel plays among worst performers
SEOUL, March 14 (Reuters) - Seoul shares fell to a three-week low on Thursday after the South Korean central bank kept interest rates on hold, disappointing some investors who had expected it to take easing measures to help revive the economy.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 0.9 percent to 1,981.81 points as of 0222 GMT, its lowest intraday level since Feb. 19.
"Expectations for government stimulus have turned into disappointment after today's rate decision," said Oh Hyun-seok, a market analyst at Samsung Securities. "Domestic consumption is weak, but the Bank of Korea is missing out on opportunities to cut rates."
The Bank of Korea's monetary policy committee held its base rate steady at 2.75 percent for a fifth straight month on Thursday.
"I'm disappointed by the delays in fiscal and monetary stimulus policy by the new government," said Oh, adding that the new government - which was inaugurated last month - has been suffering setbacks in appointing Cabinet members and ministers.
But South Korea will unveil an economic stimulus package in a few weeks, a senior presidential aide told Reuters on Wednesday, while the finance minister-designate made remarks indicating he saw the need for more central bank policy easing.
Financials were among the biggest losers, with Hana Financial Group falling 1.9 percent and Shinhan Financial losing 1.4 percent.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 1.1 percent. But memory chip rival SK Hynix bucked the trend and rose 1.6 percent.
Steel plays were under pressure, with POSCO losing 2.2 percent and Hyundai Steel shedding 1.7 percent.
STX Offshore & Shipbuilding slumped 3.2 percent after the shipbuilder said it had swung to an operating loss of 400.2 billion Korean won last year.
Lotte Tour Development plunged by the daily limit of 15 percent to a record low after a high-profile property development project in Yongsan, Seoul, in which it had invested 151 billion Korean won ($137.59 million), had defaulted. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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