Foreigners were net sellers of Asian equities for the third consecutive month in March, as higher US bond yields and a stronger dollar prompted outflows from the region.
Overseas investors sold a net combined total of $3.18 billion in South Korean, Taiwanese, Philippine, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Indian stocks last month, data from stock exchanges showed.
While Asian equities looked lucrative at the start of this year on bets over the region's faster recovery from the pandemic compared with Western countries, outflows in the first quarter suggest a reversal in sentiment.
(GRAPHIC: Foreign investments in Asian equities - )
A spike in US bond yields and concerns over tightening China policy drove a rotation out of long-duration assets and may further affect the regional equities in the second quarter, Goldman Sachs said in a report.
The brokerage referred Asia's internet, media, and other high growth sectors such as biotech and healthcare as long-duration stocks as they are more sensitive to the rise in yields.
Taiwan and South Korea, which house many high-flying tech stocks, faced the biggest outflows in the region, witnessing net sales of $3.2 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively.
Foreigners continued to exit Philippine equities for the 17th consecutive month March, struck by fresh lockdowns in capital Manila and nearby provinces after a surge in new coronavirus cases.
(GRAPHIC: Asia-Pacific equities' performance in 2021 - )
However, India lured inflows of $1.6 billion, despite a surge in infections last month.
"India has bucked the trend as investors buy into the country's recovery story," said Mitul Kotecha, chief emerging market Asia and Europe strategist at TD Securities in Singapore.
"(But) a renewed increase in virus cases and lockdowns in India could dampen recovery expectations and inflows in the weeks ahead."
Vietnam and Thailand also faced outflows last month.
However, Indonesia obtained an inflow of $800 million on optimism that the country would emerge from a pandemic-induced recession in the second quarter.