Bloomberg News

Korean Won Posts Third Weekly Loss on European Debt Concern

November 20, 2011

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s won posted its third weekly decline and government bonds advanced as borrowing costs surged in Europe, spurring demand for safer assets including the U.S. dollar.

Italy’s benchmark 10-year debt yields rose above 7 percent this week, the threshold that led Greece, Portugal and Ireland to seek bailouts. The Kospi index of shares fell 2 percent today after Spain sold a new 10-year benchmark at an average yield of 6.975 percent yesterday, the most since the euro’s creation.

“Investors took long positions on the dollar on bets the European debt crisis will take longer to resolve,” said Nam Kyung Tae, a Seoul-based currency dealer at Industrial Bank of Korea. “Exporters were selling dollars to convert income once the won reached near 1,140, which limited currency losses.” A long position is a bet that an asset will rise.

The won slid 1.1 percent this week to 1,139.13 per dollar in Seoul, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency fell 0.8 percent today.

South Korean household income rose for an eighth straight quarter from a year earlier as the job market improved, Statistics Korea said today. Average monthly income at households gained 6.5 percent to 3.9 million won ($3,440) in the third quarter from a year earlier. Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan said on Nov. 15 that the nation may need to frontload government spending in the first half of next year as the economy is expected to be weaker during the first six months compared with the second half.

The yield on South Korea’s 3.5 percent debt due June 2014 fell two basis points this week, or 0.02 percentage point, to 3.36 percent, Korea Exchange Inc. prices show. The rate fell two basis points today.

Three-year note yields may drop to an average of 3.15 percent during the first three months of next year, Lhee Jung Bum, a Seoul-based strategist at Korea Investment, wrote in a research report yesterday. Lhee forecast the central bank may cut the benchmark rate by 50 basis points during the first half of next year.

--Editors: Sandy Hendry, 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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