Foreign investors offloaded 2.12 trillion won ($1.93 billion) worth of shares traded on South Korea's main bourse in the last two weeks, the Korea Exchange said Sunday.
The stock market operator said foreigners sold off many more shares than they bought in the 10 trading days starting from Nov.
27 through Friday. The selling of shares on the Korea Composite Stock Price Index outpaced the buying of 1.72 trillion won worth of stocks by local institutional investors.
In the past two weeks, foreign investors bought more shares than they sold only twice on Monday and Tuesday of last week.
The KRX said the latest selling, focused mainly on information technology shares is in contrast to the 9.69 trillion won worth of net buying by foreign investors from the start of 2017 to Nov. 24.
Selling was centered on such big names as Samsung Electronics Co., the world's leader producer of semiconductors, and SK hynix Inc., South Korea's No. 2 chipmaker. Samsung share prices shot up some 53 percent as of last month from the start of the year, with SK hynix reportedly gaining over 90 percent in the same period.
Reflecting the outflow of funds from the KOSPI, the market, which ended trading at 2,544.33 on Nov. 24, surrendered 80.33 points, or 3.16 percent, to stand at 2,464.00 at the end of trading last week.
Market watchers said concerted selling by foreigners may be a sign that they are moving to lock in gains made throughout the year.
In addition to profit-taking after the market boom, Cho Yong-Jun, head of the research center at Hana Financial Investment Co., said strengthening of the Korean won against the US dollar may have caused investors to sell holdings.
"Despite the dip, share prices may rise again with the release of fourth-quarter earnings reports," Cho said. He added that investors are unlikely to be affected even if the US Federal Open Market Committee decided to mark up key rates this month.
"US rate hikes have already been reflected in the market," the analyst said. (Yonhap)