South Korean Won Down Amid U.S. Political Turmoil

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The South Korean won slipped for a third consecutive session to drop by more than a one-week low early on Friday as mounting uncertainty about Donald Trump’s presidency powered risk-aversion among investors in developing markets like South Korea.

The won was down at 1,126.9 against the US dollar as of 02:35 GMT, down 0.2 percent compared with Thursday’s close of 1,124.5. It had moved down as low as 1,131.1 as soon as the market opened.

A sharp acceleration in US factory activity gave the US dollar a lift on international exchanges, putting extra pressure on the won.

“It is true that the greenback itself strengthened in the global market, but the won seems to be losing more than expected due to strong risk-off mood in Asia region,” said Ha Keon-Hyeong, a Korean foreign exchange analyst.

He expected US dollar strength to continue in coming week, but saw won trading in a narrow range as end-month dollar-selling from local exporters will support the South Korean currency.

Meanwhile, Trump flatly denied he asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to end a probe into possible collusion between his campaign team and Russia, but talked over the possibility that he could be impeached has made some investors in emerging markets look for safer havens.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s sacking of Comey last week set off a political firestorm after the latter had written a memo stating that Trump had asked him to drop a probe into his former national security advisor’s Russian connections.

Moreover, South Korean shares also edged up, with the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) barely closing up 0.07 percent at 2,288.48 as of 6:03 PM GMT.

Foreign investors turned to net buyers right before the closing bell, purchasing 23.9 billion won worth of KOSPI shares for the day.

Offshore investors had purchased 63.2 billion Korean won (S$78.11 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Hyundai Motor Co. publicly denied a media report that it is seeking to introduce a holding company structure, though investors still made expectations. The company shares rose over 3 percent at 170,000 won while market heavyweight Samsung Electronics dropped 2.6 percent at 2,236,000 won.

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