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Seoul: Won edges up on reduced North Korea tension, stocks down

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won edged up early on Wednesday as market fears around North Korea were partially alleviated when US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pledged the United States would work with China to reduce tensions.

Weaker-than-expected US economic data also broadly pressured the greenback.

The won stood at 1,140.7 to the US dollar as of 0225 GMT, up 0.1 per cent compared to Tuesday's close of 1,142.4.

"The won seems to be recovering after seeing a sharp loss on Tuesday," said Jung Sung-yoon, a foreign exchange analyst at Hyundai Futures.

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The local currency fell nearly 0.8 per cent at mid-session on Tuesday because of heightened tension after US Vice President Mike Pence reassured Japan of Washington's commitment to reining in North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Jung added the North Korea issue had become watered down in markets, with investors' attention shifting to other factors such as US economic data.

South Korean shares slumped in response to downbeat global stock markets, especially Wall Street.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.6 per cent at 2,136.14 points.

Offshore investors were set to be sellers of Kospi shares, offloading a net 77.5 billion Korean won ($67.98 million) worth, also weighing on the index.

Shares of Hyundai Motor fell nearly 3 per cent, while S-Oil strengthened nearly 4 per cent.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 509 to 252.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.07 point to 109.54.

REUTERS

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