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Seoul: Won scales 4-week high, stocks hurt by losses in Samsung Electronics

[SEOUL] The South Korean won rose to near four-week highs early on Monday as the US dollar stumbled after Federal Reserve Chief Janet Yellen gave no clues on the US monetary policy outlook at a central bankers' meeting over the weekend.

The US dollar was also under pressure with the euro hitting a 2-1/2-year peak after the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi refrained from talking down the single currency. Moreover, the US currency appeared to be undermined by Hurricane Harvey, which pummeled the heart of America's energy industry.

The won was quoted at 1,121.1 against the US dollar, up 0.6 per cent versus Friday's close of 1,128.2, its strongest intraday level since Aug 2.

"(European Central Bank President) Mario Draghi's comments... boosted demand for the euro, broadly weakening the dollar in global markets," said Min Gyeong-Won, a foreign exchange analyst at NH Futures.

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He said markets will probably take a cautious stance ahead of a raft of US and domestic economic data such inflation and exports.

South Korean shares were lower, dragged down by foreign selling in heavyweight Samsung Electronics .

On Friday, the billionaire head of Samsung Group, Jay Y Lee, was jailed for five years for bribery, raising worries about a leadership vacuum.

Lee's defence lawyer has filed an appeal against the five-year jail term, the Seoul Central District Court's website said on Monday without giving details.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.3 per cent at 2,369.03 points.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers of Kospi shares, disposing a net 33.9 billion Korean won (S$41.03 million) worth near mid-session.

The sub-index for electric & electronics fell 1.3 per cent with Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix down 1.5 per cent and one per cent, respectively.

September futures on three-year treasury bonds remained at 109.24, unchanged.