Retail investors leaving stock market

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- Individual investors' turnover on the country's stock market plunged to a record low this year as they lacked idle cash to invest and the local stock market suffered a bearish run, data showed on Monday.

According to the data compiled by the Korea Exchange, retail investors accounted for 46.52 percent of the main bourse's stock turnover through Friday. A comparable figure for the secondary, tech-laden KOSDAQ market, was 88.91 percent.

The figures represent an all-time low since the bourse operator began compiling related data in 2002.

In 2002, retail investors made up of around 72 percent of stock turnover on the main bourse, and 92.94 percent on the KOSDAQ market.

Their foothold on the main bourse in terms of stock turnover hovered around 60 percent between 2002 and 2005, but tumbled to 55.46 percent in 2011 and 50.85 percent in 2012.

Individual investors' stock turnover on the secondary market reached a record 93.55 percent in 2009 in the midst of the global financial crisis sparked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

But their portion also declined to 92.32 percent in 2010, 92.06 percent in 2011 and 91.64 percent in 2012.

Market analysts said retail investors are pulling out of the stock market as they have no extra money to invest in stocks, and find few viable investment destinations to park their money amid low interest rates.

The country's key stock index, the KOSPI, declined 0.96 percent through Friday this year, and the KOSDAQ index edged up 0.09 percent during the cited period.

"Retail investors saddled with rising residential and education costs have no disposable money to invest in local shares," said Roh Keun-hwan, an analyst at Korea Investment