Fed stresses Korean currency’s resilience

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 12, 2014 - 21:58
  • Updated : Feb 12, 2014 - 21:58
South Korea’s currency has been “more resilient” than that of other emerging countries to global financial volatility prompted by U.S. tapering of its stimulus program, a U.S. Federal Reserve report showed Wednesday.

In the Monetary Policy Report submitted to Congress on Tuesday (local time), the Fed analyzed the financial stress and vulnerabilities of 15 emerging market economies and provided the “vulnerability index” for each country.

The index is based on such major data as current account, national debt, inflation and the amount of foreign reserves of each country. A higher index means more vulnerability, currency depreciation and an increase in interests in state bonds.

According to the biannual report, South Korea was categorized, along with Taiwan, as a country whose vulnerability index is among the lowest.

“The currencies of Brazil, India and Turkey dropped sharply in the middle of last year, whereas the currencies of Korea and Taiwan were more resilient,” the report said.

The report did not provide exact numbers for the vulnerability indexes of each country, but did provide an attached graph showing an index range of three to 13. South Korea was placed at around 4, which is slightly higher than Taiwan.

This is much lower than the vulnerability indexes for Turkey and Brazil, whose financial markets were hard-hit recently due to worries over U.S. tapering on its bond-purchasing program. Their indexes stood at around 12, the graph showed.

Korean stocks finished slightly higher on Wednesday, extending their winning streak to six sessions, as China’s strong economic data prodded investors to scoop up shares in chemicals, steel and shipbuilders. The South Korean won jumped against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 0.20 percent, or 3.78 points, to 1,935.84. Trading volume on the main market was 222.25 million shares worth 3.57 trillion won ($3.4 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 489 to 315.

The market started higher on the back of Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s speech at a House committee that was viewed as a positive catalyst for the market, analysts said. Yellen said she will maintain her predecessor‘s policies by scaling back the bond-purchase program in measured steps.

The market advances were led by gains in chemicals, steel and shipbuilders, but they were pared by losses in tech big caps from the won’s sharp rise to the dollar.

“A whopping rise in China’s exports and imports sent the market’s key index higher, with chemicals, steel and shipbuilders leading the advance,” said Eric Lee, an analyst at Daishin Securities Co.

China’s exports jumped 10.6 percent in January compared with a year ago, also up from an on-year 4.3 percent gain in December.

Imports advanced 10 percent in January from 8.3 percent in December. (Yonhap)