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Korean Won Rises to Two-Week High, Bonds Fall as Output Rebounds

Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s won rose to its highest level in more than two weeks and government bonds fell after industrial output unexpectedly increased for the first time in four months and U.S. consumer confidence picked up.

Output rose 3.3 percent in January from December, when it dropped a revised 0.7 percent, Statistics Korea said today. Economists forecast a 0.5 percent decline, a Bloomberg survey showed. Overseas investors bought more Korean shares than they sold today, following two days of net selling. The Conference Board’s gauge of U.S. consumer confidence in February increased to the highest level in a year, figures from the New York-based research group showed yesterday.

“Positive U.S. data set a favorable tone for won trading today,” said Lee Kun Hee, a Seoul-based currency dealer at Korea Exchange Bank.

The won strengthened 0.5 percent to 1,118.96 per dollar in Seoul, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency touched 1,117.90 earlier, the highest level since Feb. 10. The Kospi index of shares climbed 1.3 percent.

The economy expanded in the fourth quarter at the slowest pace in two years and growth may bottom in the current period through March, Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan said last week.

The yield on South Korea’s 3.5 percent bonds due September 2016 rose one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 3.54 percent, Korea Exchange Inc. prices show.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kyoungwha Kim in Singapore at kkim19@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sandy Hendry at shendry@bloomberg.net

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