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Seoul: Won slips as safehaven demand rises on Brexit fears and Fed

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won fell early on Wednesday as investors continued their purchases of safehaven assets on Brexit referendum worries while awaiting the US Federal Reserve's policy decision expected later in the global day.

The won was quoted at 1,177.3 as of 0220 GMT, down 0.4 per cent compared to Tuesday's close of 1,173.2.

"US retail sales data released overnight was strong enough to boost expectations for hawkish statements from the June Fed meeting," said Park Sung-woo, a foreign exchange analyst at NH Futures.

US retail sales rose strongly in May as Americans bought automobiles and a range of other goods, suggesting economic growth was gaining steam despite a sharp slowdown in job creation.

Mr Park added the won would buckle against the dollar if the Fed signals the possibility of two rate hikes this year.

The referendum for deciding whether Britain will remain in European Union is scheduled on June 23.

South Korean shares fluctuated between positive and negative territory amid worries over the coming global events.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was nearly unchanged at 1,973.50 points.

South Korean equities shrugged off MSCI's decision not to include local stocks in the advanced market index, which Seoul now expects to be difficult in the near-term.

Foreign investors were poised to be sellers for four straight sessions, offsetting a net 62.8 billion Korean won (S$72.4 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, weighing on the index.

Software services firm Samsung SDS Co Ltd was 1.6 per cent higher after it said it will consider measures such as a share buyback or increasing dividend payments in response to requests from minority shareholders late on Tuesday.

Carmaker Hyundai Motor Co lost 1.4 per cent while Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd rose 4.0 per cent.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 408 to 387.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.01 point to 110.63.