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Seoul: Won, stocks edge up on US data; capped ahead of RBA

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won and stocks rose early on Tuesday after upbeat economic data from the US boosted stocks there, but gains were capped as most investors waited for an interest rate decision out of Australia later in the day.

The won was quoted at 1,135.8 per dollar as of 0200 GMT, up 0.2 per cent versus its previous close of 1,137.8. Shortly after opening, the currency touched its highest level since April 21.

The greenback weakened while US stocks rose after export orders there rose to a near 1-1/2 year high, offering hopes for the manufacturing sector.

"Not much movement is expected ahead of a long holiday weekend in South Korea in addition to major Asian markets closed for the day," analysts at KR Futures said in a note to clients.

They forecast the won will trade in a range of 1,135 to 1,145 won on Tuesday. Korean markets will be closed from May 5 through May 8.

"Investors will hone in on the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest rate decision to see where the Australian dollar will go," the note said. The RBA is widely expected to stand pat on Tuesday.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.1 per cent at 1,980.85 points and set to break four days of losses thanks to foreign demand.

Foreign investors net purchased 44.8 billion won (S$52.8 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Shares in Amorepacific and AmoreG were up 2.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively after the cosmetics giant posted sturdy first-quarter growth based on steady demand.

Pharmaceuticals were outperforming the main bourse, with Hanmi Science and Daewoong Pharm each up around 2 per cent near midday.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds ticked down 0.01 points to trade at 110.31.

REUTERS