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South Korea: Won rises to 3-month high, stocks edge up

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The South Korean won raced to a near three-month high early on Monday, as the US dollar sagged after US employment data disappointed, with wages barely rising despite strong job growth.

[SEOUL] The South Korean won raced to a near three-month high early on Monday, as the US dollar sagged after US employment data disappointed, with wages barely rising despite strong job growth.

The won was quoted at 1,137.7 against the US dollar as of 0247 GMT, up 0.9 per cent from Friday's close of 1,147.6. It was the strongest level since Nov 9, 2016, when Donald Trump won the US presidential election in a stunning victory.

The US dollar pulled back on expectations the Federal Reserve will likely refrain from raising interest rates next month, and also on a lack of progress over expected US fiscal stimulus.

Kim Doo-Un, a foreign exchange analyst at Hana Futures, said market players seemed to be focusing more on details such as wages from the US economic data, which barely notched a rise in January, but warned about the won's volatile trend.

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"The won could possibly show a sudden drop in the near term as there still remain many risks from political issues at home, the Federal Reserve's pending rate hikes, and also Trump's future fiscal policies. The currency's movement is likely to remain volatile until as late as April," Mr Kim added.

South Korean shares also strengthened and the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.3 per cent at 2,078.64 points.

Offshore investors were poised to be sellers, offloading a net 32.7 billion won (S$40.48 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

South Korean bank shares were buoyed on news that Mr Trump issued an order on bank financial regulations in the United States last week.

KB Financial Group Inc rose as much as 2.3 per cent and Hana Financial Group Inc 2.4 per cent, both touching their highest in 52 weeks.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 455 to 343.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.09 point to 109.50.

REUTERS

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