South Korea’s foreign exchange reserves hit a fresh historic high at the end of last year thanks to surplus pile in the country’s current account from record exports and increased returns in non-dollar assets from the weakening in the U.S. dollar.
According to Bank of Korea on Thursday, Korea’s foreign exchange reserves reached $389.27 billion at the end of December last year, up $2.02 billion from the previous record high of $387.25 billion a month ago. It rose by $8.17 billion last year, the second largest growth after $19.49 billion set in 2013.
The gain in external reserve was largely driven by an inflow of U.S. dollars due to the lengthy surplus streak in current account and higher revenue from the bank’s foreign exchange operations. A weaker U.S. dollar led to an increase in the value of other currencies when converted into the dollar. During the last month, the euro rose 0.8 percent against the U.S. dollar, the British pound 0.2 percent, the Australian dollar 3.0 percent.
By asset type, securities including government, public entity and corporate bonds and asset-backed securities dropped by $90 million to $358.83 billion from November. Cash deposits in foreign bank accounts rose by $2.02 billion to $20.65 billion. The special drawing rights (SDR) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) added $90 million to $3.37 billion. SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF that can be withdrawn by its members in proportion to their quota in the IMF.
Korea remains the world’s ninth biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves as of the end of last year. China tops the list with $3.12 trillion, followed by Japan with $1.26 trillion.
In Seoul trading on Wednesday, the dollar was down 2.3 won at 1,062.20 won.
By Kim In-oh and Lee Ha-yeon
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