SEOUL Feb 22 South Korea's central bank held
the smallest amount of foreign exchange currency forward
positions last year since end-2012, data from the International
Monetary Fund showed, in a sign the bank may have intervened
less to weaken the won for trade competitiveness.
According to the IMF data, South Korea's long positions in
forwards in foreign currencies in regard to the won stood
at $39.71 billion at the end of 2016.
This was the smallest since end-2012 and down $11.89 billion
from $51.68 billion seen at end-2015.
Last year, the won fell 3 percent against the surging
dollar, its third straight year of depreciation versus the
But so far this year it has gained nearly 6 percent, as
emerging market currencies get a boost from a pause in the
The data is usually used by analysts and traders to try and
calculate how much the Bank of Korea intervenes in the foreign
The central bank does not disclose details or confirm
traders' suspicions of intervention.
But South Korean foreign exchange authorities say they
conduct market smoothing activities against extreme
one-sidedness or herd behaviour in the market.
The data, updated monthly, also showed the forwards
positions declined considerably over the course of November and
December, coinciding with the election of U.S. President Donald
Trump and his taking office.
The Bank of Korea declined to comment on the data or whether
it had intervened, while a foreign exchange official said it was
"too hasty" to give meaning to recent movement in the positions.
South Korean officials, including the finance minister, have
been vehement that the country will not be named as a currency
manipulator in the U.S. Treasury's report on foreign exchange
policies of major trading partners expected in April.
(Reporting by Yena Park; Writing by Christine Kim; Editing by