Direct financing by South Korean companies soared 34.2 percent in August from a month earlier, as local firms opted to secure funds before the U.S. starts scaling back its monetary stimulus, the financial regulator said Monday. Companies here raised a total of 8.8 trillion won (US$8.18 billion) last month through selling stocks and bonds, compared with 6.56 trillion won in the previous month, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). On a cumulative basis, they raised 75.3 trillion won in the January-August period, down 13.7 percent from a year earlier, the FSS added. The on-month increase came as Korean companies were willing to secure money via bond sales before the U.S. Federal Reserve kicks off a cut in its massive stimulus package, which many analysts here and abroad had expected to begin in September. Fear that the Fed will trim the bond-buying program has prompted a hike in bond yields in recent months, leading to higher borrowing costs for bond issuers. The Fed announced after its Sept. 18 monetary meeting that it decided to hold off the tapering for the time being. Companies sold 8.71 trillion won worth of corporate bonds in August, up 37.1 percent from a month earlier. The increase largely came from the 1.68 trillion won worth of asset-backed securities (ABSs) sold by telecom companies. But direct financing by stock sales remained sluggish, with the amount more than halved to 87.7 billion won from 201.9 billion won over the cited period. There were eight rights offerings and no initial public offerings (IPOs), the regulator said, citing the persistent downturn in the local stock market.