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Seoul: Stocks at 7-week low, won firms

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares edged to a seven-week intraday low early on Tuesday due to investors' nervousness over a political scandal gripping President Park Geun Hye's government, and caution ahead of several major central bank meetings this week.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.2 per cent at 2,004.39 points as of 0212 GMT, its weakest level since Sept 12, 2016.

The South Korean won, however, recovered marginally after its recent fall to stand at 1,141.7 against the US dollar, up up 0.2 per cent from Monday's close of 1,144.5.

After simmering for weeks, a scandal erupted last week over allegations that President Park's friend Choi Soon Sil exerted inappropriate influence over state affairs.

Several of Ms Park's aides were forced to quit their posts over the weekend as the fallout from the scandal widened, and late on Monday Mrs Choi was detained, hours after she had arrived at the office of local prosecutors to answer questions.

"Not only the political crisis inside the country but also major central banks' policy meetings are making investors wary of trading too actively," said Kim Ye Eun, a stock analyst at LIG Investment & Securities.

The outcome of the Bank of Japan's policy review is expected later in the day, while policy decisions from the Federal Open Market Committee and Bank of England are also due later this week.

Ms Kim said the current wait-and-see mood was likely to last until the US presidential election on Nov 8 is over.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers.

Shares of SK Innovation Co Ltd and S-Oil Corp gained more than 3 per cent due to a rally in global oil prices.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.05 point to 110.29.