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Dollar Takes a Dive Against Korean Won; China Strengthens Energy Security Policy

The dollar reached a low it hasn't seen in a long time in South Korea, following speculation over China's currency. Meanwhile, Beijing took steps to ensure its massive energy demands can be met in the future.

South Korean economists say the dollar may be once again entering what they call the "triple digit" era. The greenback dove below the 1000 won level on April 25 for the first time in seven years closing just under 999 won.

Keun Chul, the Foreign Exchange Team Director at the Korean Development Bank, says the region's currencies took their cue from China.

Mr. Keun says the won and most other Asian currencies strengthened against the dollar due to speculation China may revalue its currency, the yuan.

South Korean economists estimate major exporters here have seen profits drop by 10 percent this year alone due to the dollar's slide.

On the other side of the equation, the South Korean government says overseas spending by Koreans rose almost 23 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, as South Koreans are enjoying more purchasing power in the United States. Korea's National Tourism Organization says South Korean travelers spent more than $2.5 billion outside the country.

China is taking steps to ensure its enormous energy requirements can be met in the future. Authorities in Beijing have created a State Energy Office tasked with monitoring the country's energy security.

China's gross domestic product has grown at sizzling rates, topping 8 percent for several years in a row. As a result, demand for oil and gas imports have skyrocketed.

Chinese media say the new office will have extensive authority to manage the use of energy by the country's manufacturers.

China and the Philippines stepped up trade relations this past week during a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. The two nations concluded some 14 agreements, including a deal on oil exploration in the South China Sea.