Seoul: Won strongest since early December as dollar sags globally; stocks edge up

[SEOUL] The South Korean won hit its strongest level since early December against the dollar, as the US currency weakened all round in the wake of the Federal Reserve's switch to a less hawkish outlook for US interest rates.

The won stood at 1,162.1 per dollar, gaining 1.0 per cent from Thursday's close at 1,173.3.

It reached as high as 1,156.3 when trading opened, recording its highest level since Dec 4 last year.

"The greenback's decline and rise in global oil prices overnight are boosting the won along with currencies in other emerging countries," said Park Yuna, a foreign exchange analyst at Dongbu Securities.

Ms Park added that the won is unlikely to firm beyond the 1,160 won level due to possible intervention by foreign exchange authorities who have warned against excessive one-sided moves.

South Korean shares edged up, but gains were limited by investors' profit-taking.

A North Korean ballistic missile launch on Friday also caused jitters among market participants, analysts said.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.2 per cent at 1,992.75 points as of 0209 GMT.

Offshore investors were set to be buyers for seven consecutive sessions, and purchased a net 93.0 billion Korean won (S$70.7 million) worth of KOSPI shares near mid-session.

Major steelmakers' shares rose with Posco rising 2.1 per cent.

Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co Ltd rose 5.5 per cent.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 404 to 388.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.01 point to 110.12.


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