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Seoul: Won, stocks rise as risk-off mood eases on US debate

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won and shares inched up early on Tuesday, reversing losses as investor caution over who will next lead the world's biggest economy eased after the US presidential election debate.

The won was quoted at 1,103.8 as of 0251 GMT, up 0.4 per cent compared to Monday's close of 1,107.9. It had been down half a per cent before the debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump began.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) slipped at the opening, but then changed course and was up 0.3 per cent at 2,053.40 points. Trading began an hour before the US debate started.

"There were some dollar-long positions ahead of the debate, but now risky assets are in demand again," said a foreign exchange dealer at a bank.

"We're also seeing some of those long positions being cut."

But Jung Sung Yoon, a foreign exchange analyst at Hyundai Futures, said the won will be volatile as market investors will be on the lookout for changes in public opinion after the debate.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers, offloading 27.8 billion Korean won (S$34.29 million) of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Steelmaker Posco gained more than 2 per cent while Korean Air Lines Co Ltd rose 4.1 per cent.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 446 to 326.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.01 point to 110.79.