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Foreign Central Banks Increased Korean Bond Holdings in 2011

Foreign central banks and state-run funds increased their holdings of South Korea’s local-currency bonds by 86 percent last year, according to data released today by the Financial Supervisory Service.

They owned 28.3 trillion won ($24.7 billion) of the securities at the end of 2011, up from 15.2 trillion won at the end of the previous year, the regulator said in an e-mailed statement today.

Malaysian investors were the biggest buyers, boosting ownership by 3.7 trillion won, the FSS said. Funds based in China and Kazakhstan followed, adding 3.66 trillion won and 2.2 trillion won, respectively. Total foreign investment in won and dollar-denominated Korean bonds increased 9 percent last year to 83 trillion won, according to the regulator.

Korean Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan said on Jan. 9 that overseas central banks’ demand for the nation’s debt is growing and the government will work with them to limit volatility in capital flows, Yonhap Infomax reported.

The won weakened 2.3 percent against the dollar last year and the benchmark five-year bond yield fell 62 basis points to 3.46 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

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