Seoul: South Korea's foreign reserves surged in April to top $300 billion (Dh1.1 trillion) for the first time as the country's buffer against financial turmoil posted a fourth straight record high.

South Korea's official foreign reserves totalled $307.20 billion at the end of last month, the Bank of Korea announced on Tuesday. That was $8.58 billion higher than the previous record of $298.62 billion set in March.

Foreign reserves are a key economic and policy tool that countries can wield to defend their currency from speculative attack, provide liquidity and bolster the overall financial system. Asia leads the world in reserve holdings.

South Korea's central bank attributed April's gain to a "sharp increase" in the dollar value of the portion of the reserves denominated in the euro and British pound in line with their strength against the greenback. Increased operating profits on the reserves also contributed to the gain.

Seoul sees the reserves as a key defence against financial turmoil after the 1997-98 Asian crisis, when it received a multi-billion dollar bailout, and the instability that accompanied a dollar liquidity crunch during the 1998 turmoil.