Foreign currency deposits in South Korean financial institutions hit a new monthly high in December as exporters chose to keep the dollar revenues in banks while individuals stocked up dollars to make profit when the greenback strengthens.
Holdings in foreign currencies stood at $83.03 billion at the end of December, up $2.62 billion from the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea on Monday. This marked the third straight month of record high deposits, up from $73.3 billion in October and $80.4 billion in November.
The data tracks foreign currency holdings of Korean nationals as well as foreigners who have stayed in Korea for more than six months and foreign companies operating in the country.
Dollar deposits, which account for the bulk of foreign deposits, increased $2.65 billion to $70.8 billion. Companies have raked in millions of dollars from overseas sales but are not withdrawing the money because of the expensive exchange rate when converted into the local currency, said the Bank of Korea.
The won passed the 1,060 milestone in 2018 for the first time in three years, appreciating 14 percent against the U.S. dollar last year.
The won finished Monday up 0.20 percent against the dollar at 1,062.70.
Deposits denominated in the Japanese yen gained $220 million to $5.79 billion while those in euro fell $330 million to $3.45 billion.
Foreign deposits for full 2017 surged $24.1 billion over a year to mark the biggest-ever annual growth.
By Kim In-oh and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]