Seoul: Shares fall on foreign outflows, won hits 13 1/2-year low

South Korean shares fell on Thursday (Sep 15), as a strengthening dollar led to foreign outflows ahead of US retail sales and industrial output data. The won hit a near 13 1/2-year low, while the benchmark bond yield rose.

The benchmark Kospi ended down 9.59 points or 0.4 per cent at 2,401.83, erasing earlier gains.

Among heavyweights, technology giant Samsung Electronics and peer SK Hynix fell 1.41 per cent and 1.08 per cent, respectively, but battery maker LG Energy Solution rose 2.51 per cent.

The dollar reversed course, leading to foreigners' sell-off, on expectations of solid US retail sales and industrial output data, which would strengthen the Federal Reserve's will for monetary tightening, said Kim Seok-hwan, analyst at Mirae Asset Securities.

Foreigners were net sellers of shares worth 222.3 billion won (S$224.2 million).

The won ended 0.2 per cent lower at 1,393.7 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, after touching the weakest since late March 2009 at 1,397.9.

The currency recovered much of its losses after the foreign exchange authority issued a verbal warning, which was also suspected of conducting a dollar-selling intervention to curb the won's fall, as it neared the 1,400-mark.

South Korea's president said the country's external financial soundness, including its current account and foreign exchange reserves, was not at a point to be worried about.

In offshore trading, the won was quoted down 0.3 per cent at 1,394.9 per dollar, while in non-deliverable forward trading its 1-month contract was quoted at 1,393.3.

In money and debt markets, September futures on 3-year treasury bonds plunged 0.57 point to 103.52 in late afternoon trade.

The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield soared by 18.8 basis points to 3.781 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield jumped by 14.8 basis points to 3.806 per cent. REUTERS

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