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S.Korea central bank keeps rates unchanged for 9th month

SEOUL, Feb 13 (Reuters) - South Korea's central bank stood pat for a ninth straight month on Thursday, as expected, and a firming economic recovery supported the consensus market view that the bank would begin raising interest rates later this year.

The Bank of Korea's monetary policy committee held its base rate steady at 2.50 percent, a media official said without elaborating. Governor Kim Choong-soo is due to hold a news conference from 11:20 a.m. (0220 GMT).

All 23 analysts surveyed in a Reuters poll before the decision said the Bank of Korea would probably leave rates unchanged in February and until late 2014.

Asia's fourth-largest economy is on a firm recovery path despite earlier concerns about the effects of U.S. stimulus tapering, thanks to strong employment, improving exports to advanced countries, and solid investor confidence.

(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Choonsik Yoo)