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Institutions go long on stocks amid market havoc

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korean institutional investors have been loading up on stocks this month despite a virus-induced market crash, data showed Friday.

The country's state pension fund and other institutions remained in net buying mode between March 2 and Thursday, purchasing stocks worth nearly 1.1 trillion won ($910 million), according to the data from the Korea Exchange.

The figure represents a drastic increase from their February net buying tallied at 348 billion won.

Institutions' net buying stood at 1.6 trillion won between Jan. 20, when South Korea reported its first confirmed coronavirus case, and Thursday.

Analysts said institutions' massive net buying appears to have been driven by expectations of a price rise after the ongoing market rout.

Pounded by escalating worries over the global spread of COVID-19, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) plunged 3.87 percent to close at 1,834.33, the lowest in four years and six months.

"Institutions have been buying the dips, which has been a market trend over the past decade, when KOSPI falls below the 2,000-point mark," said Jung Yong-taek, a senior researcher at IBK Securities.

Retail investors have also been snapping up stocks this month. They bought a net 538 billion won on Thursday, extending their net buying streak to six sessions. Their cumulative net buying in March rose to 5.5 trillion won.

In contrast, foreigners sold a net 897 billion won on Thursday, remaining in net selling mode for six sessions on end. Foreign investors' net selling totaled 5.5 trillion won.

Market watchers said it remains to be seen whether institutional buying will be able to prop up the bearish stock market amid massive selling by foreign investors. (Yonhap)
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