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Seoul: Won rises on exporter US dollar sales; stocks edge up

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won stepped up to a near one-week high early on Wednesday as exporters sold dollars and the greenback eased ahead of the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest meeting.

The won was quoted at 1,141.3 as of 0233 GMT, up 0.4 per cent compared with Tuesday's close of 1,146.1 and near its highest intraday level since last Thursday.

Traders will be on the lookout for further clues regarding the Fed's future policy, while focusing more on US President Trump's tax reform policies, although another US rate hike has largely been priced into markets, said Kim Doo-Un, a foreign exchange analyst at Hana Futures.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said late on Monday that she would be comfortable raising interest rates at this point if the economy maintained its current pace of performance.

Market voices on:

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker kept in step on Monday, showing support for a March rate hike as long as indicators show the US economy is expanding.

Strong US dollar-selling from local exporters was also supporting the won on Wednesday, Mr Kim said.

South Korean shares were set to gain for three consecutive sessions and the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was trading up 0.2 per cent at 2,106.32 points.

Offshore investors were set to be buyers, purchasing a net 75.1 billion Korean won (S$93.32 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 426 to 349.

Automobile manufacturer Hyundai Motor lost 1.3 per cent while Korea Electric Power Corp rose nearly one per cent.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.01 point to 109.50.