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Seoul: Won jumps to 2-week high after Fed minutes; stocks weaker

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The South Korean won sharply rose to its highest in two weeks early on Thursday as the US dollar was broadly pressured when the minutes of the Federal Reserve's December meeting appeared to give no definitive indication of implementing three rate hikes this year.

[SEOUL] The South Korean won sharply rose to its highest in two weeks early on Thursday as the US dollar was broadly pressured when the minutes of the Federal Reserve's December meeting appeared to give no definitive indication of implementing three rate hikes this year.

The won was quoted at 1,194.3 against the US dollar as of 0218 GMT, up one per cent compared with Wednesday's close of 1,206.4. It touched as high as 1,190.0, strongest level since Dec 20, 2016.

"Other currencies like Japanese yen and Chinese yuan are all strengthening against the dollar today, giving the won an extra boost," said Jeon Seung-Ji, a foreign exchange analyst at Samsung Futures.

Mr Jeon added that there seems to be more room for the won to gain. But in the near term, market players will be focused on US employment data scheduled for release on Friday.

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South Korean shares were slightly weaker in low-volume trade, with the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) down around 0.2 per cent at 2,042.23 points.

Samsung Heavy Industries gained more than 5 per cent after it said it had won an order worth 1.5 trillion won.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd lost 1.1 per cent.

Offshore investors were poised to be net buyers for the seventh consecutive session, purchasing 34.1 billion Korean won (S$41.14 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.05 point to 109.67.

REUTERS

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