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Seoul: Won, stocks wobble; North Korea, Samsung risks in focus


[SEOUL] The South Korean won and stocks got off to a shaky start on Monday as worries over North Korea's test launch of a new missile were offset by relief that talks between US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared to go smoothly.

North Korea said that it had successfully test-fired a new type of medium- to long-range ballistic missile the previous day.

The won was quoted at 1,150.1 against the US dollar, little change from its previous close of 1,150.6.

It found some relief after the US-Japan summit ended with no tough rhetoric over trade and currency policy.

"The local currency is reacting more to the yen's movement as the market has long been aware of North Korea risks," said Jeon Seung-Ji, a foreign exchange analyst at Samsung Futures.

Mr Jeon expected the won to trade in a range of 1,140-1,160 this week.

The finance ministry said on Monday that foreign exchange authorities would be on the lookout for any volatility over the North Korea provocation, although based on previous incidents, the market was largely expected to shrug it off.

South Korean shares also wobbled on geopolitical worries, while Samsung Group leader Jay Y Lee's attendance at South Korean special prosecutor's office also affected market sentiment.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was little changed at 2,076.28 points.

Offshore investors were set to be small net sellers of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd shares were down nearly one per cent, hurt by the investigation into the Samsung Group leader.

Mr Lee is accused of pledging 43 billion won (S$50 million) to a business and organisations backed by President Park Geun-Hye's friend, Choi Soon-Sil, in exchange for support for a merger of two Samsung companies.

Steelmaker Posco rose 1.1 per cent.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 438 to 346.

March futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.02 point to 109.51.


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