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Seoul: Won, stocks tentative waiting for Fed; Trump's comments eyed

[SEOUL] The South Korean won and shares' trading were subdued early on Wednesday as the investors waited for the outcome from the Federal Reserve's policy meeting, setting aside US President Donald Trump's comments about North Korea overnight.

Mr Trump said on Tuesday that the United States would be forced to "totally destroy" North Korea unless Pyongyang backs down from its nuclear challenge, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "rocket man" on a "suicide mission".

"Trump's comments were actually very strong and the won would have moved more if it were not for the overall cautious mood before the Fed's decision," said Kim Doo Un, a foreign exchange analyst at Hana Financial Investment.

As of 0228 GMT, the won stood at 1,128.9 to the US dollar, up 0.2 per cent versus Tuesday's close of 1,131.3.

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The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.1 per cent at 2,413.56 points.

Hana's Mr Kim said additional risks stemming from Mr Trump's comments could linger in the local markets and add volatility to the won if the Fed were to hint more openly at the timing of a rate hike or cutting its bond portfolio.

Foreign investors were poised to be net sellers of the Kospi shares as they continued to take profits ahead of Fed meeting results. They unloaded a net 117.8 billion Korean won (S$140.5 million) worth of shares near mid-session.

Shares in Hyundai Motor rose 1.4 per cent while Korea Electric Power Corp lost 1.6 per cent.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 495 to 299.

September futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.01 point to 109.94.

REUTERS