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Seoul: Won rises as worries over North abate; stocks slip
[SEOUL] The South Korean won strengthened early on Monday after fears over North Korea moderated with no new challenge from Pyongyang over the weekend, despite President Donald Trump's aggressive comments against the North.
The won was quoted at 1,131.0 against the US dollar as of 0329 GMT, up 0.5 per cent versus Friday's close of 1,136.5. Mr Trump warned at the weekend that the North's foreign minister and leader Kim Jong Un "won't be around much longer", as Pyongyang staged a major anti-US rally.
But at the same time, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday that President Donald Trump wanted to avoid nuclear war with North Korea and "will do everything we can" to prevent it.
"Worries over geopolitical risks showed signs of calming near the end of Friday's session and the calmer atmosphere spread even more today," said Ha Keon Hyeong, a foreign exchange analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.
Mr Ha added that the won could have gained more if the greenback had not rebounded in global markets.
South Korean shares, meanwhile, slipped on in cautious trade ahead of a long break next week.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.5 per cent at 2,376.29 points.
SK Hynix , the world's no two chipmaker, rose as much as 3.4 per cent after an analyst report predicting the company's fourth-quarter earnings would beat market consensus was published.
Another report said that the shares are currently undervalued, also driving up the share price.
Market heavyweight Naver lost 1.6 per cent.
Offshore investors were small net sellers near mid-session, offloading 9 billion Korean won (S$10.72 million) worth of Kospi shares.
Decliners outnumbered advancers 720 to 125.
December futures on three-year treasury bonds lost 0.03 point to 108.98.