SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) — The issuance of asset-backed securities (ABS) in South Korea surged in the first quarter from a year earlier due mainly to a hike in sales of mortgage-backed securities, the financial watchdog said Wednesday.

A combined 22.7 trillion won (US$18.5 billion) worth of ABS was issued in the January-March period, up 12.9 trillion won from the previous year, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

ABS are backed by underlying assets, such as auto loans, home loans, credit card receivables and student loans.’

The hike came as the Korea Housing Finance Corp. (KHFC) increased the issuance of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), a type of ABS, the FSS said.

The state-run mortgage agency increased its MBS issuance to 17.9 trillion won in the first quarter from 4.8 trillion won a year earlier. The agency sells long-term fixed-rate mortgages as part of a policy effort to support the financially weak.

ABS issuance by local financial firms slid 32.3 percent on-year to 2.1 trillion won in the first quarter, while non-financial companies issued 2.7 trillion won worth of ABS, up 42.1 percent over the cited period.