Known for their love of risk, individual investors appear to be changing the contours of South Korea’s broader market. They are the force behind the benchmark Kospi index’s 64% rebound from its March low -- the strongest performance in Asia in that period -- having bought a net 25.6 trillion won ($21.6
billion) worth of stocks since then even as foreign funds and institutional investors sold. In the U.S., the Robinhood craze means that retail investors now account for roughly 20% of equity trading, up from 15% historically, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysis.
“Retail investors appear to be seeking short-term profits after hearing their next-door neighbors earned lots of money from stocks after the March selloff,” said You Seung-Min, chief strategist at Samsung Securities Co.
The activity of Korean short-term traders in September hasn’t been limited to typical darlings like preferred stocks or shares of healthcare firms. They have also dominated trading in blue-chip companies like Samsung Electronic Co., about 81% of value traded this month through Sept. 8, and SK Hynix Inc.,
“Unlike previously, they are trading large-cap stocks as well because they believe some large-size firms may be able to make a huge profit amid the spread of the Covid-19,” You said.
The South Korea and Taiwanese markets are heavily oriented towards technology companies which has made them a natural destination for traders playing the stay-at-home momentum trade. South Korean retail traders were also highly active in the cryptocurrency markets in 2017. That experience may have emboldened them to be more aggressive in pursuing gains during this momentum move.
The Kospi Index experienced a particularly deep pull back in March and rebounded in an equally impressive manner to break the two-year downtrend. It is currently demonstrating relative strength with the reaction relatively similar sized to that posted in June. A sustained move below the 200-day MA would be required to question medium-term scope for continued upside.
The TAIEX Index has also rebounded impressively and is currently consolidating above the previous peak.
China’s tech-heavy ChiNext Index continues to revert towards the mean as it holds a short-term sequence of lower rally highs since the peak in July.