SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s foreign reserves rose for the ninth straight month in December last year, supported by an increase in investment returns, central bank data showed Wednesday.

The nation’s foreign reserves came to a record high of US$443.1 billion as of end-December, up $6.72 billion from a month earlier, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

Foreign reserves consist of securities and deposits denominated in overseas currencies, International Monetary Fund reserve positions, special drawing rights and gold bullion.

The country’s FX reserves have risen every month since April after dropping by the largest amount in over a decade in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic-caused market rout.

Foreign securities came to $409.8 billion as of end-December, up $15.2 billion from the previous month and accounting for 92.5 percent of the FX reserves.

Deposits fell $9.05 billion on-month to $20.2 billion, and gold holdings remained unchanged at $4.79 billion.

As of the end of November, South Korea was the world’s ninth-largest holder of foreign exchange reserves.

This file photo shows a Hana Bank official in Seoul inspecting U.S. banknotes before their release into the local financial market. (Yonhap)