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Market volatility intensifies over Ukraine crisis

An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Feb. 21, 2022. (Yonhap)
An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Feb. 21, 2022. (Yonhap)
Mounting concerns over Russia’s possible invasion of Ukraine are increasingly weighing on an already jumpy local stock market, as investors price in a full-blown geopolitical crisis that could send foreigners holding Korean shares fleeing back home.

The benchmark Kospi tumbled to 2,743.80, down 0.03 percent or 0.72 points from Friday’s closing. Foreigners, whose holdings account for a little over 30 percent of all Korean stocks, and institutions were net sellers, offloading 64 billion won ($53 million) and 90 billion won, respectively.

The selloff offset individual purchases amounting to 132 billion won. The three most valuable companies – Samsung Electronics, LG Energy Solution and SK hynix – all saw their shares tumble.

In intraday trade, the Kospi fell as low as 2,694.90, showing a similar dip seen last week when it slid to below 2,700 and hit 2,676.54. The dip below 2,700 was first seen on Jan. 27 when investors pulled out their money on signs of a rate hike by the US Federal Reserve.

“The Ukraine conflict will affect the stock market for the time being,” said Kim Young-hwan, a market strategist at NH Investment & Securities, adding that the crisis will not get resolved anytime soon because the West is skeptical of Russia’s troop withdrawals.

“Oil prices are resuming a rally and that poses another challenge globally,” Kim added.

The local stock market has seen outflows led by foreigners since January, according to recent data. The data suggested that foreigners effectively ended their buying spree in December last year.

Meanwhile, retail investors had pulled out money from their investment accounts and jumped onto safer options like money market funds, a low-risk investment that offers daily redemptions, according to separate data that compared investment patterns seen in February this year and September last year.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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