Top five lenders see foreign currency deposits double

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Top five lenders see foreign currency deposits double

Foreign currency-denominated deposits at five Korean lenders more than doubled from a year ago to $20 billion in February on the back of the local currency’s ascent against the U.S. dollar, financial industry sources said yesterday.

According to local sources, the outstanding deposits at five commercial lenders - Kookmin Bank, Woori Bank, Shinhan Bank, Hana Bank and the state-run Industrial Bank of Korea - reached $20.36 billion, up 3.2 percent from January.

The figure marked a 65 percent surge from the $12.34 billion held by these banks a year earlier.

The surge was driven by the depreciations of the U.S. dollar against the Korean won and also the fall of the Japanese yen against the greenback, which triggered purchases of foreign currencies by local firms.

The ongoing debt crisis in Europe and rising oil prices, which could prompt financial turmoil, also drove Korean corporations to stock up on foreign currency on expectations that the won could weaken once the financial unrest dissipates.

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