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South Korea won falls for 7th straight day as foreigners buy dollars

won-SEOUL: The South Korean won edged down Friday, declining for the seventh consecutive day and marking the worst weekly performance in six weeks as continued dollar-buying by foreigners weighed.

The local currency was quoted at 1,110.3 against the dollar at the end of onshore trade, compared with 1,109.0 at the Seoul close on Thursday.

"The only momentum-generating issue at present, domestic and abroad, is the stronger dollar, which the dollar-won rate can't ignore," one local bank dealer said.

For the week, the won fell by 1.8 percent against the dollar, its worst performance in six weeks. It is down 3.6 percent against the US currency so far this year.

A string of positive economic data from the US increased speculation that the US Federal Reserve may be the first major central bank to start unwinding its ultra-loose monetary policy, boosting the US currency.

The broad dollar strength prompted demand for the greenback from foreigners, according to traders.

A second currency dealer said offshore players were placing significant bets on the dollar's further appreciation against the local currency.

A Reuters survey of 14 currency analysts showed that bearish bets on the won rose to their highest level in almost a year amid growing concerns that the rapidly depreciating yen could undercut South Korea's export competitiveness, suggesting more downside for the won in the coming days.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index ended down 0.8 percent at 1,986.50. Foreigners were net sellers of 588.7 billion won ($530.77 million) worth of local shares on Friday, the biggest selloff since September 2011.

Local bonds remained firm as some investors continued to bet on at least one more Bank of Korea rate cut to bolster growth. March futures on three-year treasury bonds ended up 0.04 points at 106.74.

Yields on the five-year treasury bonds and three-year treasury bonds each fell by one basis point from Thursday's closing level, slipping further below the central bank's base rate of 2.75 percent.

Copyright Reuters, 2013


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