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Seoul: Won, stocks strengthen on oil bounce

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[SEOUL] The South Korean won and shares firmed on Wednesday morning as risk appetite strengthened, boosted by a rise in global oil prices overnight despite wider volatility in the market.

The won was trading at 1,131.4, up 0.4 per cent compared with Tuesday's close of 1,136.3 as of 0155 GMT, having touched its highest level since early November last year earlier in the session.

"The US' semi-annual report on exchange rate policies expected sometime this week is preventing South Korea's foreign exchange authorities from stepping in aggressively to curb the won's gains," said Kim Moon Il, a foreign exchange analyst at Eugene Futures.

Traders and analysts said this week government officials have been subdued in their market smoothing activities as they are closely eyeing whether South Korea will be designated a currency manipulator in the report.

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South Korean shares climbed to a 20-week high in early trade, partly supported by continued foreign buying.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up 0.1 per cent at 2,014.24 points.

Offshore investors were set to mark a fifth buying session, purchasing a net 81.9 billion Korean won (S$96.8 million) of KOSPI shares near mid-session.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 402 to 379.

Builder Doosan Engineering & Construction Co Ltd was up 3.8 per cent following its dramatic rise from the previous day as the company's solid first-quarter results continued to attract investors.

Korea Electric Power Corp shares gained 0.8 per cent. The company is scheduled to pay dividends later in the day.

Web portal operator Naver Corp was down 2.5 per cent.

June futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.06 point to 110.23.