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Seoul: Won falls to near 9-wk low; stocks extend losses

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won fell to its lowest level since mid-March on Thursday morning as the minutes from the US Federal Reserve's April policy meeting signalled a potential interest rate hike in June.

The won was at 1,189.6 per dollar at 0221 GMT, down 0.6 per cent from Wednesday's close of 1,182.6.

The currency is likely to trade in a limited range ahead of upcoming global economic events, including an Opec meeting on June 2 and mid-June policy meetings of central banks, including the US Fed and the Bank of Japan, said Jung Sung-yoon, a foreign exchange analyst with Hyundai Futures.

"Breaking into the 1,200 level seems highly unlikely, but the won would not go below 1,170 until the results of global events coming in June are all out in the market," Jung said.

South Korean shares were headed for their second session of losses as foreign investors and local institutions continued selling for a third day on worries over a Fed rate hike.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 0.5 per cent at 1,946.70.

Offshore investors had sold a net 53.2 billion won (S$61.8 million) worth of KOSPI shares by the mid-session.

The sub-index for the construction industry weighed on the broader market, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd down 5.2 per cent.

Chipmaker SK Hynix Inc rose 1.2 per cent to its highest in two weeks.

Losers outnumbered winners by 568 to 244.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.07 point to 110.19.

REUTERS