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Seoul: Won, stocks slump to multi-week lows on geopolitical risk


[SEOUL] The South Korean won and shares tumbled to the lowest in about three weeks early on Thursday after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump agreed that North Korea's missile launch was a "serious threat", sparking geopolitical anxieties in the market.

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Wednesday, ahead of a summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.

The won stood at 1,132.2 to the US dollar as of 0227 GMT, down 0.7 per cent compared to Tuesday's close of 1,124.4. It was the lowest intraday level since March 17.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.7 per cent at 2,146.76 points, the weakest intraday level since March 16.

Market voices on:

"It is not North Korea's missile launch itself but Trump's firm stand over sanctions on Pyongyang that is triggering worries among investors and weighing on the local currency," said Min Gyeong-Won, a foreign exchange analyst at NH Futures.

Mr Min added that the won, however, is expected to resume gaining once this week's Mr Trump and Mr Xi summit is over.

Offshore investors were poised to be sellers for four straight sessions, offloading a net 69 billion Korean won (S$85.5 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 555 to 235.

Steelmaker Posco dropped nearly 3 per cent while Hotel Shilla rose nearly one per cent.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.01 point to 109.51.