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Seoul: Won set for third day of gains after dovish Fed minutes

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won was set to rise for a third straight session early on Thursday as the minutes of the US Federal Reserve's January meeting issued overnight showed chances for a March rate hike may be smaller than markets had expected.

The won stood at 1,139.3 to the US dollar as of 0212 GMT, up 0.3 per cent versus Wednesday's close of 1,142.6. The won touched 1,139.5, highest intraday level in a week.

"The dollar weakened in the global market while political anxieties over the presidential election in France calmed a bit, supporting the won for today," said Ha Keon-Hyeong, a foreign exchange analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.

South Korean shares were little changed with the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi ) at 2,106.11 points, near to its previous close.

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Financial markets shrugged off the Bank of Korea's widely expected decision to hold rates for an eighth consecutive month.

Offshore investors were poised to snap a five-day buying spree, offloading 27.5 billion Korean won (S$34.17 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 444 to 324.

Shares of Hanjin Shipping fell 47 per cent as the investors dumped stocks before its delisting. A South Korean court declared the company bankrupt last week, after ruling earlier this month that the firm's liquidation value would be worth more than its value as a going concern.

Web portal Naver gained 1.3 per cent.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.02 point to 109.41.