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(LEAD) S. Korea's FX reserves hit new high in Aug.
SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's foreign reserves rose to a fresh high in August as investment profit gained and a weaker dollar boosted the conversion value of non-dollar assets, the central bank said Wednesday.

   The country's foreign reserves reached US$316.88 billion as of the end of August, up $2.53 billion from the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

   The foreign reserves' previous record high came in April when they hit $316.84 billion. In July, the BOK increased its gold holdings to 70.4 tonnes, its first purchase this year. The bank bought gold twice last year, marking the first purchase in 13 years.

   Despite some monthly fluctuations, the FX reserves have been on the rise, aided by exports and inflows of foreign capital, giving room to the BOK to make smooth operations to curb the local currency's sharp gains.

   Lee Soon-ho, an economist at the BOK, said that the August gain came as the euro and the British pound appreciated to the dollar, raising their dollar conversion value. He declined to comment on the BOK's suspected intervention in the currency market.

   Foreign reserves consist of securities and deposits denominated in overseas currencies, along with International Monetary Fund reserve positions, special drawing rights and gold bullion.

   As of end-July, South Korea was the world's seventh-largest holder of foreign exchange reserves.

   sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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