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Foreigner investors keep buying Korean stocks, but analysts say the streak may be temporary

All News 09:48 July 21, 2016

SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- Offshore investors have been on a buying streak for South Korean stocks, sending their market cap ratio in the main local bourse to a 14-month high, the Korea Exchange said Thursday, but analysts were divided on whether the rally will continue.

Shares held by foreign investors as of Tuesday accounted for 33.61 percent of the total market cap for KOSPI, the highest since 33.62 percent reached on May 18 last year. The buying streak has continued since June 29 except for a single day on July 6, with a total net purchase of over 3.3 trillion won (US$2.89 billion) in the period.

Analysts agree that the inflow is not particular to South Korea and has mostly to do with post-Brexit expectations of monetary easing across the globe that has attracted money to emerging markets.

"As indicated in the analysis by Emerging Portfolio Fund Research, the money flow to emerging market funds last week was the highest of the year on a weekly basis," Suh Jeong-hoon of Samsung Securities said. "The global liquidity that led the asset value increase in advanced markets is coming into emerging markets."

Lee Kyung-min of Daishin Securities said the buying streak is not unique to South Korea. "It's common throughout emerging markets in Asia," Lee said.

But analysts disagree on whether the rally can be sustained.

Kim Hyung-ryul, head of the macro team at Kyobo Securities, said he does not see overseas investors suddenly changing their minds. "Considering that the money is circulating in emerging markets, there is no immediate reason for the foreign investors to change to a sell position. The buying mode may weaken in strength, but the mode is not likely to change for some time."

Suh of Samsung Securities based his uncertainties on central banks. "There is no telling when the key central banks might change their policy to stop their markets from overheating," he said. "Chances of an abrupt capital flight are still low, but we have to keep in mind the possibility that central banks will opt for a rein-in."

The monetary policy meetings this month by the European Central Bank, the U.S. Fed and the Bank of Japan need to be closely watched, he said.

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