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Seoul: Won weakens after Yellen speech; stocks edge up
[SEOUL] The South Korean won slipped early on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's comments raised the odds of a US rate hike in March, dampening sentiment already hurt by a corruption scandal around President Park Geun-Hye.
The won stood at 1,140.7 to the US dollar as of 0239 GMT, down 0.3 per cent from Tuesday's close of 1,137.4.
"If US economic growth stays firm, interest rates could be increased as early as March," said Ha Keon-Hyeong, a foreign exchange analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.
South Korean shares edged up despite worries over Fed and political issues at home, thanks to purchases by local institutions.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was up 0.5 per cent at 2,084.71 points.
Shares of listed companies of the Samsung Group slumped after South Korea's special prosecutors made another arrest warrant request for group leader Jay Y Lee, a suspect in a graft investigation that threatens to topple the president.
Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics was down 0.5 per cent, after dropping 1.3 per cent immediately after opening. Samsung Engineering Co Ltd declined 2.8 per cent and Samsung C&T Corp 028260.KS fell 0.8 per cent.
Offshore investors were on track to be net sellers, offloading 17.5 billion Korean won (S$21.79 million) of Kospi shares near mid-session, while the institutions bought 91.8 billion won worth.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 485 to 307.
March futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.06 point to 109.51.