Bloomberg News

Korean Won Rises on Jobs Data, Berlusconi Offer; Bonds Advance

November 09, 2011

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s won rose for the first time in three days after the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped toward a record low, bolstering confidence in the economic outlook. Bonds advanced.

The jobless rate declined to 3.1 percent last month from 3.2 percent in September, Statistics Korea said today. A 3 percent level in the first two months of 2008 was the lowest in data going back to 1999. Economists expected a 3.3 percent rate last month, based on the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offered to resign yesterday as soon as Parliament approves austerity measures pledged to European partners.

The won strengthened 0.3 percent to 1,117.32 per dollar, after gaining as much as 0.9 percent earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency trimmed gains on speculation importers are buying dollars to settle bills, according to Roh Sang Chil, Seoul-based chief currency dealer with Kookmin Bank. The Kospi Index of shares advanced 0.2 percent today.

“The Italian prime minister’s plan to quit and South Korea’s unemployment data will buoy market sentiment,” said Lee Jung Ha, a Seoul-based senior currency dealer at Korea Development Bank. “There’s not much momentum in the market and players are reacting to news headlines.”

The Bank of Korea will meet on Nov. 11 to review its benchmark interest rate, which has been kept at 3.25 percent since the last increase in June. The rate will be left unchanged this week, according to all 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The government’s benchmark three-year bonds gained for an eight day, pushing yields to near a four-week low. The yield on the 3.5 percent bonds due June 2014 fell one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 3.38 percent, Korea Exchange Inc. prices show.

South Korea’s currency trading market will open one hour later than usual tomorrow to help reduce traffic for high-school students taking their national college entrance examinations. The market will close as usual at 3 p.m., according to the Seoul Foreign Exchange Market Committee.

--Editors: James Regan, Brett Miller

To contact the reporter on this story: Jiyeun Lee in Seoul at jlee1029@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sandy Hendry at shendry@bloomberg.net


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