* Fed expected to raise interest rates as early as March
* KOSPI supported by institutions' stock-buying
SEOUL, Feb 15 The South Korean won
slipped early on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chair Janet
Yellen's comments raised the odds of a U.S. rate hike in March,
dampening sentiment already hurt by a corruption scandal around
President Park Geun-hye.
The won stood at 1,140.7 to the dollar as of 0239
GMT, down 0.3 percent from Tuesday's close of 1,137.4.
"If U.S. economic growth stays firm, interest rates could be
increased as early as March," said Ha Keon-hyeong, a foreign
exchange analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.
South Korean shares edged up despite worries over Fed and
political issues at home, thanks to purchases by local
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was up
0.5 percent at 2,084.71 points.
Shares of listed companies of the Samsung Group slumped
after South Korea's special prosecutors made another arrest
warrant request for group leader Jay Y. Lee, a suspect in a
graft investigation that threatens to topple the president.
Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics was down
0.5 pct, after dropping 1.3 percent immediately after opening.
Samsung Engineering Co Ltd declined 2.8 percent and
Samsung C&T Corp 028260.KS fell 0.8 percent.
Offshore investors were on track to be net sellers,
offloading 17.5 billion Korean won ($15.35 million) of KOSPI
shares near mid-session, while the institutions bought 91.8
billion won worth.
Advancers outnumbered decliners 485 to 307.
March futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.06
point to 109.51.
0239 GMT Prev close
Dollar/won 1,140.7 1,137.4
Yen/won 9.9685/781 9.9579
*KTB futures 109.51 109.57
KOSPI 2,084.71 2,074.57
* Front-month futures on three-year treasury bonds
(Reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Richard Borsuk)