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As Kospi rally nears end, money moves to safer options

Korean investors are pulling out money from their investment accounts to reallocate it to safer options such as money market funds as they seek to ride out volatility gripping the local stock market, data showed Sunday.

As of Thursday, credit-backed loans for stock investments stood at 21 trillion won ($17.5 billion), down about 4 trillion won from a record high of 25 trillion won in September last year.

Since then, the deposit borrowed from brokerages on investors’ credit has been shrinking, according to the Korea Financial Investment Association, a group of local brokerages and asset managers.

But money market funds saw an inflow worth 25 trillion won in the same period, with the sum totalling around 160 trillion won in the funds. MMFs are known to offer little price volatility and immediate liquidity as fund operators invest in high-quality, short-term debt securities and offer daily redemptions.

Cash management accounts, which help investors handle savings and other cash transactions while earning interest, also attracted an extra 4 trillion won.

“Investors are feeling the heat from the US Fed looking to raise the rate and cut the pandemic support. The market is volatile and they want to really think about the next best move while being shielded from uncertainties,” a source with knowledge of the matter said.

Last week, a local brokerage said South Korea ranked fifth among 47 countries globally in the drop in stock market capitalization between December last year and January this year amid the Fed rate hike worries.

Meanwhile, the Korea Financial Investment Association found that four more brokerages either have reported or are set to announce that their net profits surpassed 1 trillion won last year, in addition to Mirae Asset Securities, the largest local brokerage that first set that record in 2020.

Both NH Investment & Securities and Samsung Securities have reported 1.3 trillion won in net profits, recording an on-year jump of 67 percent and 93 percent, respectively.

Korea Investment & Securities, which had already logged 1.6 trillion won in net profits up until the third quarter last year, and Kiwoom Securities, which had reported 960 billion won in the same period, are expected to post their record profits for 2021.

Last year, the benchmark Kospi and junior Kosdaq reached record highs on upbeat corporate earnings and robust retail demand.

By Choi Si-young (
Korea Herald daum