The Korea Herald


S. Korea’s forex reserves extend 6-month uptrend in Sept.

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : Oct. 7, 2020 - 17:16

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)
South Korea’s foreign reserves continued to rise in September for the sixth straight months, mostly on the back of the country’s sale of foreign exchange stabilization bonds and partly due to investment returns, central bank data showed Wednesday.

The foreign reserves totaled at a record high of $420.6 billion as of the end of September, up $1.59 billion from a month earlier, according to data compiled by the Bank of Korea.

The given figure comprises securities and deposits denominated in overseas currencies, International Monetary Fund reserve positions, special drawing rights and gold bars.

Seoul has seen its forex reserves rise every month since April, following a record steep dip in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic and related market fallout.

Key factors for the latest uptrend were the government-led sale of the forex stabilization bonds and an improvement in investment profits which offset the devaluation of non-dollar assets, data showed.

Last month, the country issued low-yielding foreign exchange stabilization fund bonds -- $625 million and 700 million euros, separately.

The 10-year dollar-dominated bonds carry a yield of 1.198 percent, while the five-year euro-denominated bonds carry a record-low yield of minus 0.059 percent, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

This was the first time that a non-European state sold euro-dominated bonds with a negative yield, which indicates that investors would earn less than the original purchase price upon the bond’s maturity.

Foreign currency securities slipped $3.7 billion on-month but still accounted for 90.1 percent of the forex total with $379.1 billion as of end-September, down $3.7 billion from a month earlier, while gold holdings stayed unchanged at $4.79 billion.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy was the world’s ninth-largest holder of foreign exchange reserves as of the end of August, according to the BOK.

The No. 1 forex holder was China with $3.16 trillion, up $10.2 billion on-month, followed by Japan, Switzerland, Russia, India, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong.

By Bae Hyun-jung (