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South Korea Current Account Surplus at 9-Month High

South Korea's current account surplus hit a nine-month high in August on booming exports despite a slow U.S. economy, data showed on Tuesday, putting fresh upward pressure on an already-rising won.

The current account surplus rose 8.5% to a seasonally adjusted $1.83 billion in August from a revised $1.69 billion surplus in July, marking the biggest since a surplus of $2.46 billion in November last year, the central bank data showed.

Analysts said the strong current account performance led by robust exports would provide a further boost to the won , which has already climbed 4.3% in just six weeks since touching a 2007 low of 952.2 per dollar in August.

"The August current account surplus will give more reasons to buy the won," said Leslie Khoo, an economist at FORECAST.

The won has recently been driven up to two-month highs against the dollar amid the U.S. currency's weakness on lingering concern about the health of the world's largest economy.

But Khoo said South Korean foreign exchange authorities -- the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Korea (BOK) -- would probably intervene in the market to cap the won's rise.

"Currently, BOK seems to have become less tolerant on the won's strength, especially when the yen/won is on the fall," he added.

The won would reach its strongest level in a decade since late 1997 against the dollar if it rises above 912.6.

South Korean policymakers have repeatedly expressed concerns the won's rise against trade rivals, especially against the yen , would seriously hurt the country's export performance.

In August, the trade surplus widened to $3.74 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis, from a revised $3.10 billion surplus in July, also marking the biggest surplus in nine months since
November last year, the Bank of Korea data showed.

For the first eight months of the year, South Korea's current account surplus more than tripled to a seasonally adjusted surplus of $4.85 billion from a $1.52 billion surplus for the same period in 2006.

The Bank of Korea has predicted the current account surplus this year would fall to a third of last year's $6 billion.