Tesla’s Stock Slide Has Korean Day Traders Boosting Purchases

(Bloomberg) — A 13% tumble in Tesla Inc. shares last month wasn’t enough to stop Korean day traders from piling into the stock, with purchases reaching one of the highest levels on record as investors sought bargains.

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Retail investors in South Korea added a net $1.04 billion worth of Tesla shares in May, according to Korea Securities Depository data. That was their biggest monthly buying since December last year, when net purchases totaled $1.06 billion.

Korea’s nearly 10 million retail equity traders are seeking better returns abroad as domestic shares are in a bear market, and they aren’t afraid to dip into volatile assets such as cryptocurrencies and leveraged products. Tesla fits the profile: its shares have slumped every month this year except in March, dropping 27% in 2022 as Elon Musk bid to buy Twitter Inc. and the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes weighed on tech stocks with high valuations.

The U.S. electric vehicle maker is the most popular overseas stock held by Korean investors, who owned $12.7 billion worth of the shares as of June 1, according to Korea Securities Depository data. That represents 1.58% of Tesla’s market value and makes South Korean shareholders the fifth-largest holder group excluding Musk, according to a Bloomberg calculation.

Apple Inc. is the second-most popular among Koreans, who hold $4.8 billion worth of shares in the iPhone maker.

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