February 16, 2018 / 7:32 AM / a year ago

Foreigners' net selling of Japan stocks hits highest since Aug 2015

A man walks past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Net selling of Japanese stocks by foreign investors last week hit the highest since China’s stock market crash in 2015, as a sharp sell-off on Wall Street triggered a global flight from riskier assets, exchange data showed.

Foreign investors, who were also net sellers in the previous four weeks, sold 1.8 trillion yen ($17.03 billion) of Japanese cash and futures stocks on a net basis during the week of Feb.5-9, the largest amount since late August 2015, according to data released by the Japan Exchange Group on Friday.

In recent weeks, Japanese stocks have been volatile, retreating from a 26-year peak hit last month. The Nikkei share average has surrendered all of its year-to-date gains and is now down about 5 percent.

“Investors were spooked by sharp drops in U.S. shares and unloaded risky assets,” said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities. “The excessive risk averse mood may have eased, but they haven’t turned risk on yet.”

Conversely, trust banks, which manage corporate pension trusts and national pension fund trusts, bought a net 194.7 billion yen in Japanese stocks. They were net buyers of Japanese cash stocks for the third consecutive week.

As for cash stocks, retail investors bought a net 746.7 billion yen, the highest since October 1987.

The Nikkei ended 1.2 percent higher at 21,720.25 on Friday.

(This story has been refiled to correct word in second paragraph)

Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Kim Coghill

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