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South Korea stocks, bonds hit by worst outflow in four years

Shoppers walk in the Myungdong shopping district in Seoul, South Korea.
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Shoppers walk in the Myungdong shopping district in Seoul, South Korea.

South Korean stocks and bonds in July saw their biggest monthly outflow in four years, data from the country's financial regulator showed on Tuesday, as foreigners shunned riskier assets ahead of a pending rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Foreigners pulled out a combined net 4.9 trillion won ($4.14 billion) from South Korean stocks and bonds last month in the biggest selloff since August 2011 when they dumped a net 5.8 trillion won, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

It was more than quadruple the net 1.0 trillion won of combined sales seen in June.

A FSS official said heightened uncertainties sparked by the Fed's preparations to raise interest rates had spurred the selloff, which began in June. The official expects an extended outflow of funds from stocks and bonds in August and through September, when some analysts expect the Fed will start raising rates.

"What's important is whether the selloff will start tapering off (in September)," the official said, adding that global uncertainty linked to Fed's policy path is expected to partially subside around then.

Foreigners lowered their bond holdings in July by a net 2.6 trillion won, the FSS data showed, which was the heaviest outflow from South Korean paper since December 2011.

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Investors in Thailand withdrew the most money, shaving their holdings by a net 1.3 trillion won worth, followed by those in the United States and Malaysia.

The same data showed offshore investors sold a net 2.3 trillion won worth of South Korean shares in July, which was the biggest sale since June 2013.

As of end-July, foreigners held 28.9 percent of all South Korean stocks and 6.6 percent of bonds.