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Seoul: Won slumps on political crisis; stocks slip

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won sagged on Friday and stocks eased as a political scandal engulfed President Park Geun Hye and her administration.

Ms Park has been rocked by an influence peddling scandal involving an old friend, sending her approval rating plunging to an all-time low of 5 per cent and fueling calls for her to resign.

She made a tearful apology in a brief address earlier in the day and said she is open to cooperating with prosecutors in their investigation.

The won was quoted at 1,144.7 as of 0211 GMT, down 0.5 per cent compared to Thursday's close of 1,139.6.

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South Korean shares also edged down, with the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) easing 0.1 per cent to 1,982.54 points.

"All these risks are placing a damper on investors' won demand," said Jeong My Young, a foreign exchange analyst at Samsung Futures.

She said foreigners were selling shares due to political risks both in and outside the country, as a tightening US presidential race rattles investors globally.

Offshore investors were set to offload a net 83.4 billion Korean won (S$110.93 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Shares of Korea Electric Power Corp lost nearly 2 per cent as its third-quarter operating profit was worse-than expected.

Web portal Naver Corp was down 2.1 per cent as the market expected its growth rate to slow down.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 461 to 341.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.01 point to 110.34.

REUTERS

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