Gains for HSBC shares
The mid-week break must have put local investors in a relaxed mode, as trading in the larger capitalised companies started much later than the official opening yesterday at the Malta Stock Exchange. However, when the activity picked up, prices were particularly rocky.
HSBC Bank Malta was by far the day's top gainer, adding 30c or almost five percentage points as 3,368 shares changed hands across 12 transactions, pushing the price up to Lm6.40c.
Contrary to that, Bank of Valletta shares declined slightly on continued profit-taking to close the day weaker by 1c4 at Lm5.48c5. All the 3,250 shares were struck in the final 25 minutes of the session, with the price initially declining to the Lm5.45c1 level only to recuperate part of that loss, slightly before noon.
Maltacom shares tumbled 6c5 or 4.4 per cent as investors shifted funds out of the telecommunications provider to invest elsewhere in the market. The day's activity amounted to 15,218 shares which were transacted across six trades, forcing the price to close at Lm1.42c.
Among the smaller capitalised equities, two investors swapped 3,721 shares in International Hotel Investments at €0.70, which represents a 2.2 per cent premium to Tuesday's closing price. Another single transaction was affected in Middlesea Insurance where a simple purchase of 54 shares moved the price higher by 5c to close at Lm3.10c.
Insurers drive European bourses lower
European equities were lower yesterday after Wall Street stocks succumbed to the effects of Hurricane Rita and its likely impact on oil prices and US economic growth. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.3 per cent to 1,201.53, while Frankfurt's Xetra Dax shed 0.4 per cent to 4,857.26. In Paris, the CAC 40 slid 0.4 per cent to 4,451.72, whilst London's FTSE 100 gained 0.4 per cent to 5,389.5.
Insurers were lower in the face of potential losses that may be inflicted by the latest hurricane to hit the US. A move by French group Axa, to reassure the market that it still expected double-digit profit growth in 2005 despite the impact of Hurricane Katrina, did nothing to calm nerves.
In Europe, Pernod Ricard, the world's second biggest maker of spirits, fell 3.5 per cent to €144.40 after it reported an unexpected 7.2 per cent fall in first-half net profit after the one-off charge associated with its takeover of Britain's Allied Domecq. Operating profit was up 2.1 per cent.
In spite of losses in Europe, Wall Street opened higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.3 per cent to 10,408.84, and the Nasdaq Composite adding 0.1 per cent to 2,107.6.
Tokyo shares pulled back from a four-year high yesterday, following an overnight dip on Wall Street. Investors also sold off Sony shares ahead of the unveilling of its long-awaited restructuring plan. The benchmark Nikkei 225 average was off 0.3 per cent to 13,159.36, while the broader Topix index was down 0.1 per cent to 1,356.22. The Japanese markets will be closed today for a national holiday.