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NPS, KIC bet on US bank, semiconductor stocks

In this Aug. 16, 2019, file photo, the logo for JPMorgan Chase & Co. appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. (AP-Yonhap)
In this Aug. 16, 2019, file photo, the logo for JPMorgan Chase & Co. appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. (AP-Yonhap)
South Korean institutional investors were seen betting big on the banking sector and semiconductor firms in the United States during the first quarter, filings showed Wednesday.

The National Pension Service, the world’s third-largest pension fund, has amassed holdings in US financial services firms such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, according to a filing submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The NPS, which bought 113,080 additional shares of JPMorgan Chase from January to March, saw its holdings rise 23.6 percent to $563.5 million as of end-March. Its holdings in Bank of America and Wells Fargo rose more than 30 percent.

The NPS also increased its stakes in semiconductor firms, as its holdings in Nvidia rose by 6.6 percent from January to March and those in Applied Materials surged by 60 percent.

Similar trends were also seen with the Korea Investment Corp., the nation’s sole sovereign wealth fund, as it built up its stakes in JPMorgan Chase by 14 percent and in financial services firm Charles Schwab by 44 percent.

As for Wells Fargo, the KIC unloaded 190,516 shares in the first quarter, but the valuation of its holdings jumped 22 percent.

The valuation of the KIC’s holdings in Analog Devices doubled, and that of its holdings in Applied Materials increased 2.5 times.

They were among the 206 stocks the KIC bought, out of a total of 716.

This comes as the NPS’ total US stock holdings rose nearly 9 percent to $47.8 billion, while the KIC’s holdings fell 5 percent to $31.7 billion.

While the NPS increased its stakes in technology giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, the KIC dumped shares in all four companies, with Apple and Amazon being the two biggest selloff targets followed by electric vehicle maker Tesla, the quarterly results showed. Alphabet, the holding company of Google, was the only exception among the Big Tech shares.

Microsoft, Alphabet, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Facebook were the five US companies in which the NPS’ holdings grew the fastest.

The filings also showed that both the NPS and the KIC sold off all their stakes in Tiffany & Co. On the other hand, the two institutional investors added a substantial amount of shares of forestry equipment maker Deere & Co. and carmaker Ford Motor.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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