SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s central bank said Tuesday that it net sold nearly US$6 billion in the first quarter to help ease fluctuations in the local currency market prompted by the new coronavirus outbreak.

In the January-March period, the Bank of Korea (BOK) net sold $5.85 billion in its market stabilization steps.

The South Korean central bank began releasing such data in March 2019 as part of its efforts to boost the transparency of its market stabilization steps.

In the fourth quarter, the BOK’s selling and buying had remained on par.

“The fluctuation rate sharply expanded in the first quarter,” a BOK official said of the reason for increased market stabilization operations, compared with those in the last three months of 2019.

The local currency closed at 1,156.4 won against the dollar at the end of last year. At end-March, the Korean won changed hands at 1,217.4 won against the greenback, down 61 won from three months earlier.

The fluctuation in the won-dollar exchange rate has somewhat eased after the BOK began injecting U.S. dollars using its bilateral currency swap agreement with the U.S. Fed in March.