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Seoul: Won edges down ahead of US jobs data; stocks flat

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won eased early on Wednesday, reducing previous sharp gains while some investors took to the sidelines ahead of US February employment data due at the end of the week.

The won was quoted at 1,149.8 as of 0217 GMT, down 0.3 per cent compared to Tuesday's close of 1,146.1.

"Upbeat jobs data will be a big support for the US Federal Reserve to increase rates next week, keeping the dollar strong globally," said Ha Keon-Hyeong, a foreign exchange analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.

He added that even if Friday's jobs data is upbeat and supports the US dollar, the won should not fall that much as offshore investor interest in Korean stocks will maintain demand for the local currency.

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South Korean shares also slipped on Wednesday, with the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) down 0.1 per cent at 2,092.79 points.

Offshore investors were on track to be net buyers for the day, purchasing 19.8 billion Korean won (S$24.28 million) of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics rose one per cent, touching a record high.

Steelmaker Posco gained 1.7 per cent while automobile manufacturer Hyundai Motor was down one per cent.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 484 to 294.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.03 point to 109.21.