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Seoul: Won, stocks slide to multi-week lows on N Korea risks

[SEOUL] The South Korean won skidded to a seven-week low on Thursday and shares fell for the eighth straight session as the government said it expect more provocations from North Korea in coming weeks.

In a meeting with President Moon Jae In on Thursday, national security adviser Chung Eui Yong said he expected Pyongyang to act around Oct 10 and 18, to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of its communist party and China's all-important Communist Party Congress, but he gave no details.

The won was quoted at 1,146.2 as of 0239 GMT, its lowest intraday trading level since Aug 11. It was down 0.5 per cent from Wednesday's close of 1,140.7.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) slid 0.2 per cent to 2,368.23 points, its weakest level since Sept 15.

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With risks looming from North Korea and an expected US rate hike in December, investors were squaring positions before a long holiday break, said June Park, a foreign exchange analyst at Daishin Economic Research Institute.

"Since no one knows what will happen in the financial markets over the Chuseok break, market players are trying to be as safe as possible."

Foreign investors trimmed a net 55.6 billion Korean won (S$65.96 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, set to be sellers for four straight sessions.

South Korea's finance minister said he sees the recent sell-off in local shares as a temporary phenomenon and will closely monitor markets over the holiday.

The Seoul bourse was quite mixed with advancing issues slightly outnumbering decliners by 420 to 371.

Shares of SK Hynix, the world's number two chipmaker, was up one per cent after gaining 3 per cent as the company said on Wednesday that it will participate in the plans to purchase Toshiba's memory chip unit.

Kia Motors fell 2.2 per cent and Hyundai Motor was modestly down, shrugging off South Korean government's plan to offer cheap loans to auto-component makers hit by declining sales in China.

December futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.02 point to 108.56.

REUTERS