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Seoul: Won, stocks fall after US missile strike in Syria


[SEOUL] The South Korean won and shares quickly dropped to more than three-week intraday lows early on Friday following the news that the United States launched cruise missile strikes on an airbase in Syria, which sparked risk-off sentiment globally.

The won was quoted at 1,137.3 to the US dollar as of 0220 GMT, down 0.4 per cent versus Thursday's close of 1,133.2.

The local currency, after opening at 1,131.0, fell as much as 0.8 per cent from the opening level to 1,140.0, the lowest intraday level since March 15.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.4 per cent at 2,143.54 points, the weakest since March 16.

South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's forecast its best March-quarter profit in more than three years on the back of a memory chip super-cycle, but the company shares dropped more than one per cent on eager profit-taking.

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"It has long been predicted that Samsung Elec would mark an earnings surprise for the first-quarter, and now the investors are selling the shares for profit," said Kim Ji-Hyung, a stock analyst at Hanyang Securities.

Mr Kim added that the Kospi as a whole will not move much until mid-April on cautious market sentiment during a meeting of US and Chinese leaders and the pending release of the US Treasury's biannual exchange rate report.

Offshore investors were set to mark a fifth straight selling session, offloading 58 billion won (S$71.64 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp each fell 2 per cent and one per cent on their plan to recall tens of thousands of vehicles in South Korea and an "unidentified number" in the United States due to engine issues.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.05 point to 109.34.


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