March 10 - Foreign investors were net buyers ofAsian bonds last month, with most of the money pouring intoChina and South Korea, while Indonesia and some other countriessaw outflows. Overseas investors bought a net $21.3 billion of Asian bondsin February, down from $29.8 billion in January, according todata from regulatory authorities and bond market associations. February's purchases included a net $14.78 billion ofChinese bonds and $8 billion of South Korean bonds, the biggestsince at least 2009 for the latter, as investors focused onstronger economies amid a rise in U.S. Treasury yields. Duncan Tan, a strategist at DBS Bank, said South Koreanbonds tend to exhibit safe haven characteristics whenever thereis volatility or risk aversion in Asian markets. "Whether it is the ongoing global rates sell-off or2018/2019 U.S.-China trade wars, South Korean bonds wouldusually see a sizable jump in foreign buying," he said. U.S. Treasury yields touched a one year high last month,raising concerns of another "taper tantrum", like the surge inmarket volatility in 2013 when foreigners dumped emerging market(EM) assets, pushing their currencies lower. But some analysts argue EM countries are poised for stronggrowth this year as the world recovers from the pandemic,potentially boosting commodity prices and global trade. Malaysian bonds also attracted $1.77 billion of inflows lastmonth, the data showed. However, Indonesian bonds saw a net $2.24 billion ofoutflows as its central bank cut interest rates for the sixthtime during the pandemic. Investors also sold a net $894 million and $125 million ofIndian and Thai bonds respectively. Ashish Agrawal, Asia head of FX and EM Macro StrategyResearch at Barclays, said mainland China's rising bond inflowswere mainly due to their inclusion in some global indexes in2020 and their upcoming inclusion in the FTSE Russell WorldGovernment Bond Index (WGBI). "Index inclusion flows also could be significant in 2021. Ifincluded in global bond indices, we estimate potential passiveinflows of ~US$23-36bn in India and ~US$60bn in Korea over2022-23," he said. REUTERS
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