Number of stock investors down 5.1 pct in 2012

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) -- The number of stock investors in the country fell 5.1 percent in 2012 as the protracted slump in the local stock market dented their sentiment, data showed Monday.

According to the data compiled by the Korea Exchange (KRX), the number of stock investors in the country came to 5.02 million last year, compared to 5.28 million tallied in 2011. It marked a first on-year drop in seven years.

The number of people who invest in shares traded on the main bourse KOSPI declined 5.9 percent on-year to reach 4.12 million last year, and the comparable figure for the secondary, tech-heavy KOSDAQ stood at 2.36 million last year, a 1-percent drop over the cited period.

The KRX attributed the decline to the protracted slump in the local stock market sparked by the rising financial woes over the eurozone, adding the main bourse is more vulnerable to external volatilities.

Of the total, individual investors accounted for 4.96 million, making up 19.7 percent of the country's economically active population. Males took up 60.1 percent, and females accounted for 39.9 percent, according to the bourse operator.

On average, individual investors in the main bourse were aged 49.4, while the KOSDAQ market held a comparable figure of 45.9, implying younger individuals preferred riskier investment destinations.

Foreigners' presence in the local stock market came to 32.4 percent in terms of market capitalization in 2012, up 1.8 percentage points from a year earlier.

Institutional investors also increased their foothold in the local stock markets to 15.8 percent last year from the 13 percent tallied a year earlier.

Individual investors, on the other hand, accounted for 24 percent in 2012, down 0.4 percentage point from 2011.

In 2012, the largest investors' group on the main bourse was foreigners at 34.7 percent, while that of the KOSDAQ market was retail investors at 63.5 percent, the KRX added.

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