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Foreigners' stakes in Seoul stocks edge down through Aug.

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- Foreigners' ownership of South Korean shares moved down through August this year, data showed Monday, apparently as they sought safer investment destinations amid the economic slump.

Overseas investors held 33.8 percent of stocks traded on the main bourse as of Monday, down 0.96 percentage point from end-December 2012, according to the data compiled by the Korea Exchange (KRX).

It marked a sharp drop from an all-time high of 44.12 percent tallied in April 2004, the KRX said. Foreigners sold more shares than they bought by selling a net 8.2 trillion won (US$7.4 billion) in the January-August period.

By sector, foreigners' stake in mobile carriers reached 41 percent Monday, down 1.45 percentage points from end-December. Their holdings of technology shares also shed 2 percentage points over the cited period to 43.8 percent.

In contrast, foreigners' stake in machinery and medical companies moved up 5.76 percentage points and 1.18 percentage points, respectively, to reach 30.88 percent and 3.59 percent.

Foreigners accounted for an 88.36 percent stake in Halla Visteon Climate Control Corp., a South Korean maker of air conditioners, the highest figure among listed firms, trailed by Hankuk Glass Industries Co. with 80.61 percent.

Auto parts maker GMB Korea Corp. saw its foreign holdings surge to 54.23 percent over the cited period, compared to 0.32 percent tallied at end-2012.

In contrast, stock ownership by foreign investors in China Ocean Resources Co., a Hong Kong-based fishery company listed on the main bourse, plunged 28.1 percentage points over the cited period to reach 21.31 percent this month.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 1,926.36 Friday, down 5.15 percent from 2031.10 tallied in the first trading session of this year.

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