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Foreign investors on buying spree of Korean stocks amid trade row with Japan

Overseas investors have been on a buying spree of South Korean stocks this month, despite a dampening mood from the escalating Seoul-Tokyo trade row, data showed Tuesday.

According to the Korea Exchange, foreign investors net purchased stocks on the benchmark Kospi worth nearly 1.8 trillion won ($1.5 billion) from July 1 to Tuesday.

Separate data compiled by local brokerage Yuanta Securities showed that Korean stocks were the most popular among those categorized as emerging markets. Foreign investors net purchased about 980 billion won of local stocks in the first half of the month, outranking stocks in key ASEAN nations, followed by Brazil, Taiwan and India. 


The data defied earlier projections that foreign investors would shun the local stock market, due to risks stemming from Japan’s decision earlier this month to place export restrictions on key materials needed by Korean tech firms.

Stocks of Samsung Electronics and SK hynix have been buoyed by the steady influx of foreign capital into the local market in recent weeks.

Samsung Electronics shares ended 0.21 percent higher from the previous close at 47,300 won on Tuesday. Foreigners have been net purchasing its stocks for 21 consecutive days.

SK hynix also saw its shares climb up 0.51 percent to 78,800 won.

Anticipation over the local semiconductor sector is expected to further build, with Goldman Sachs turning bullish on the related stocks earlier in the day. It upped its rating on SK hynix in its latest report.

“While visibility is limited in the near term … we believe disciplined supply-side actions from the memory manufacturers ... coupled with recent supply-side disruptions will drive ... an improvement in memory supply and demand sooner than previously expected,” Goldman analyst Toshiya Hari wrote.

Local analysts also projected a rosy outlook for memory prices, saying they will recover by the end of the year.

“Memory prices are expected to recover from the start of the second half of the year, which will affect the performance of big chipmakers including Samsung Electronics and SK hynix in a positive manner. After the remaining batch of memory chips are sold, the drop in memory prices is projected to slow down in the fourth quarter,” said Kim Dong-won, an analyst at KB Securities.

At the same time, they expressed concerns that the current influx of foreign capital may be temporary, considering the overall lackluster state of the local stock market and that investors are focused on certain sectors.

“It seems foreign investors have been purchasing local stocks due to their lower price,” said Choi Seok-won, an analyst at SK Securities.

“It’s disconcerting that the buying spree is only focused on certain sectors and companies.”