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Seoul: Won inches up ahead of Yellen speech, stocks weaker

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won edged up against the US dollar on Tuesday ahead of congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen later in the global day.

The won looked set for a gain for the first time in three days, and was up 0.2 per cent at 1,149.2 as of 0247 GMT, compared with Monday's close of 1,152.0.

The currency has strengthened 5.1 per cent against the US dollar this year on the back of improving exports and as the greenback lost some steam.

Traders are focused on Yellen's testimony for clues to the pace of the US central bank's interest rate increases.

"It's unlikely that Yellen would suddenly turn hawkish and change the whole trend, but her speech may have a selective effect on currencies according to how the investors interpret it," said Jung Sung-yoon, a foreign exchange analyst at Hyundai Futures.

South Korean shares were little changed, with foreign selling offset by local buying.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.1 per cent at 2,076.76 points.

Foreign investors were expected to be net sellers, offloading 75.5 billion Korean won (S$91 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, weighing on the index.

Web portal Naver lost more than 3 per cent, hurt by foreign selling, whereas steelmaker Posco rose nearly 2 per cent, supported by foreign buying.

Decliners and advancers were nearly even.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds lost 0.02 point to 109.50.


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