Foreigners' net selling soars in H1

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- Foreigners' net selling of Seoul shares reached the highest first-half tally this year since the 2008 financial crisis, data showed Monday, as they offloaded local shares amid policy uncertainties.

Overseas investors dumped more shares than they bought at 10.2 trillion won (US$8.7 billion) over the six-month period on the main bourse, according to the data compiled by the Korea Exchange (KRX).

The number marks the highest level since 17.6 trillion won tallied in the January-June period of 2008, when foreigners exited from Seoul in the wake of the collapse of U.S. investment giant Lehman Brothers.

It marked a sharp contrast with foreigners' net buying of 6.3 trillion won tallied in the first six months of 2012.

Market watchers said the massive sell-off came as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke implied in June that the central bank is likely to start slowing the pace of its bond purchase program this year.

A monetary easing move by an advanced country usually induces investors to set their sights on emerging markets, while it also gives developing countries more leeway to secure foreign currency at low interest rates.

"The emerging markets experienced a foreign sell-off amid the rising woes over the U.S. quantitative easing," said Lim Soo-kyun, a researcher at Samsung Securities Co. "The rising concerns over the Chinese economy also dented their sentiment in June."

Foreigners dumped a net 5.1 trillion won last month, which also marks the highest monthly level since a net selling of 8.5 trillion won tallied in January 2008.

Overseas investors' foothold on the main bourse came to 31.43 percent on Thursday, down 1.1 percentage points from 32.53 percent tallied in the first trading session of this year, the data also showed.

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