SAO PAULO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Foreign investors have pulled 20.3 billion reais ($5 billion) from Brazilian stocks so far this year, B3 SA Bolsa Balcao said in a statement on Tuesday, the largest withdrawal since 1996.
Driven by increasing worries over the global economy, the U.S.-China trade war and a financial crisis in neighboring Argentina, the outflow surpassed the 16.5 billion reais that was pulled from Brazilian stocks in the same period in 2008, during the global financial crisis.
So far this month, foreign investors have reduced their stock holdings in Brazil by 9.6 billion reais, the stock exchange said.
These figures would appear to give credence to the view consistently held by market participants and analysts this year that foreign investors are far less bullish on Brazil than domestic investors.
The latest available international portfolio flows data from the central bank show that in the first six months of the year investors pulled more than a net $2 billion from Brazilian stocks, while investing more than a net $6 billion into Brazilian fixed-income assets.
Despite the overseas outflow from equities, the benchmark Bovespa index is up 13% this year, as the lowest official interest rates on record encourage local and institutional investors to diversify out of bonds.
($1 = 4.0350 reais) (Reporting by Paula Laier, Tatiana Bautzer and Jamie McGeever Editing by Paul Simao)