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South Korean Bonds Complete Weekly Gain as Economic Outlook Dims

South Korea’s three-year government bonds completed the biggest weekly gain in a year as a worsening outlook for the economy bolstered demand for the safest assets. The won traded within 0.3 percent of a six-year high.

Retail sales in the U.S. increased 0.3 percent in May, less than the 0.6 percent gain projected by economists in a Bloomberg survey, data showed overnight. Bank of Korea left its benchmark interest rate at 2.5 percent for a 13th straight month yesterday and Governor Lee Ju Yeol said a strong currency hurts the economy while lowering inflationary pressure. President Park Geun Hye nominated ruling party lawmaker Choi Kyung Hwan as the new finance minister today.

“There was speculation that the governor would turn less hawkish at yesterday’s monetary policy meeting, and the actual statement was more bond-friendly than expected,” said Park Dongjin, a Seoul-based fixed income analyst at Samsung Futures Inc. The new finance minister nominee is expected to focus on economic revival, according to Park.

The yield on the 2.75 percent bonds due June 2017 dropped ten basis points, or 0.10 percentage points, this week to 2.74 percent in Seoul, Korea Exchange prices show. That’s the weekly biggest drop for the rate on benchmark three-year notes since June 2013. It fell four basis points today. The 10-year yield fell eight basis points since June 6 to 3.31 percent.

The World Bank cut its 2014 global growth forecast this week to 2.8 percent from a January projection of 3.2 percent. Overseas investors purchased $105.8 million more of South Korea’s equities than they sold this week, exchange data show.

The won appreciated 0.3 percent since June 6 and was little changed today at 1,017.88 per dollar, data compiled by Bloomberg show. It touched 1,015.25 on June 10, the strongest level since August 2008. One-month implied volatility, a gauge of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, fell 71 basis points this week to 4.85 percent.

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