While foreign investors are scooping up major tech shares, retail investors in Korea are continuing to bet on a battery boom, anticipating further growth for the industry.
Earlier this year, share prices of battery-related firms soared, as Korean battery firms are expected to benefit from the US Inflation Reduction Act with tax incentives when battery materials are processed there.
Reflecting the outlook, the top shares bought by retail investors on the Korean stock market from Jan. 2 to May 25 were those of battery-related firms, including Posco Holdings (4.46 trillion won), EcoPro (2.09 trillion won) and its affiliate EcoPro BM (1.03 trillion won), Posco Future M (485 billion won), Hanwha Solution (411 billion won) and SK Innovation (354 billion won).
Though the EcoPro boom lost steam in May after the holdings company failed to be included in the Korean index provided by US index provider Morgan Stanley Capital International and its Chairman and founder Lee Dong-chae was given prison time for illegal stock trading, it continues to ride the battery wave.
Some parts of the retail investor frenzy for EcoPro moved on to the shares of Posco Holdings and its affiliate Posco Future M, with retailers pinning high hopes on the battery materials producer under the steel giant.
In May, retail investors net bought 186 billion won worth of shares in Posco Holdings, 117 billion won in EcoPro, 52 billion won in Posco Future M and 47 billion won in EcoPro BM.
Yet, the recent streak of events concerning an alleged stock manipulation scandal via France-based Societe Generale may dampen the buying power of retail investors.
The balance for credit financing, referring to the volume of personal credit loans taken out for stock investments, fell to 18.44 trillion won as of Wednesday, data from the Korea Financial Investment Association showed.
The figure marks a steep fall after it had stayed above 20 trillion won last month, before the scandal rose to the surface.