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Financial News

BOV, Middlesea lead the way

The voracious buying activity continued during yesterday's trading session at the Malta Stock Exchange. Equities increased in price, spurred by buying activity in banking shares which helped the MSE index register an extraordinary 11th consecutive session of gains.

Bank of Valletta remained the most sought after by investors, as 32,392 shares were exchanged across 60 trades. The psychological level of Lm7 resisted for the entire session only to be breached on the final three trades of the day when partially filled orders were completed, pushing the price higher by 5c1 to Lm7.05. On the contrary, HSBC Bank Malta succumbed slightly under selling activity which saw 4,490 shares being exchanged across 15 trades. The price declined by 0c5 or less than 0.1 per cent to end the session at Lm7.14,05.

The day's biggest gainer was Middlesea Insurance which gained 8c9 or 2.6 per cent late in the session.

Activity was conspicuously meagre with merely 529 shares being struck across two deals, pushing the price to close at Lm3.50, its highest level since February 2001.

Buying activity in Maltacom continued uninterrupted from Tuesday, although volume remained weak. A total of 4,700 shares were exchanged during the session, aiding the price gain 0c5 or 0.29 per cent to finish at Lm1.74, its highest level in three weeks.

Elsewhere in the market, activity in International Hotel Investments, Lombard Bank, Malta International Airport, and Plaza Centres did not affect their previous closing levels of €0.80, Lm7.15, Lm1.53,1 and Lm0.64 respectively.

Tokyo shares rise on retailers' gains

Japanese stocks rose on Wednesday, bolstered by gains in domestically focused sectors. The bank-heavy Topix gained 0.5 per cent to close at 1,598.59. The tech-heavy Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 per cent to 15,484.66, with gains curbed by the poor performance of some high-tech shares.

The recent rally in banking stocks ran out of steam in afternoon trading, with the sector ending the day up only 0.5 per cent. However, SMFG, one of Japan's biggest banking groups, climbed 1.7 per cent to Y1,210,000. Real estate rose 0.7 per cent. Mitsubishi Estate, Japan's second biggest real estate company, was up 2.2 per cent to Y1,910.

European bourses turned around early losses to set a fresh three-and-a-half-year high, shrugging off US crude's climb above $60 ahead of key inventory numbers later in the day for oil and oil products. Futures trading on Wall Street pointed to possible slight opening gains yesterday as investors eagerly awaited for key quarterly figures from the technology sector. However, early gains may fade after oil prices once again nudged above the $60 a barrel mark in early trading, with Nymex crude oil futures up 49 cents at $60.43.

London's leading shares index hit a fresh four-year high yesterday as the banking sector built on Tuesday's gains. Northern Rock rose 2.3 per cent to 896 and a half pence after Lehman Brothers raised its rating from "equal-weight" to "overweight". Lehman said the Newcastle-based company's superior growth prospects justify a valuation premium over its domestic banking peers.

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