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Seoul: Shares, won take a breather ahead of ECB meeting


[SEOUL] The South Korean won and stocks held steady on Wednesday with most investors on the sidelines ahead of a much-watched European Central Bank policy meeting later this week.

The local currency was up 0.1 per cent at 1,129.8 as of 0217 GMT, nearly flat after a volatile start to the week.

The ECB governing council will meet on Thursday, which will be followed by an announcement on interest rates and a news conference. Markets expect it to highlight a willingness to act to boost inflation, but not just yet.

"The won will likely stay near 1,130 today, supported somewhat by exporters but most investors will be on the lookout for momentum-lending catalysts," said foreign-exchange analyst Hong Seok-chan at Daishin Economic Research Institute.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.3 per cent at 2,045.92 points. It briefly touched 2,053.95 points shortly after markets opened, its highest since July 29.

Shares in LG Electronics were up more than 10 per cent after a supply agreement with General Motors Co boosted hopes the firm's auto business is gaining traction.

Steelmaker POSCO rose more than 5 per cent after it posted its highest quarterly operating profit in more than two years for the September quarter late on Tuesday.

Foreign investors net purchased 24.0 billion won (S$29.51 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session, poised to mark a fifth straight session of buying.

The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks was up 0.3 per cent, while the junior KOSDAQ edged 0.2 per cent lower.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds ticked down 0.05 points to trade at 109.61.