Weak volumes see Index lower
Yesterday's trading session at the Malta Stock Exchange was particularly quiet with low volume deals being struck in a handful of equities. Slight declines in the larger capitalised companies meant that the MSE Index closed in negative territory for its fifth consecutive session, this time losing 0.34 per cent to 4,878 points.
HSBC Bank Malta was the day's biggest loser as the equity gave up more than its previous session's gain by declining 1c5 or 0.8 per cent to Lm1.90,5. The day's trading activity was limited to 4,382 shares which changed hands across seven transactions leaving, at the end of the session, 200 shares best supplied at Lm1.90,2 against supply of a further 618 shares offered at Lm1.90,5.
Two investors swapped a mere 280 shares of Bank of Valletta in a lonely transaction which was executed at the Lm3.59 level. This represents a 1c or 0.3 per cent decline when compared to Wednesday's closing price.
Elsewhere, a single transaction was also execute in Simonds Farsons Cisk with a buyer agreeing to purchase 2,000 shares from a seller who offloaded without deviating from the previous closing level of Lm1.05.
Plaza Centres consolidated at the multi-year high level of 74c, as 1,600 shares were transacted across two deals. At the end of the session 665 shares remained outstanding on the bid side at 70c while 5,000 shares were best offered at 75c.
In the fixed interest sector of the market, activity was spread across three corporate bonds and the same number of government stocks. Among corporate debt, relatively robust activity was witnessed in the 6.6 per cent Simonds Farsons Cisk 2010/12 where 8,500 nominal was swapped across four transactions at Lm103.50.
Single deals where struck in three government securities, whose maturities ranged between 2016 and 2021, with all prices moving higher by a few ticks. The sector's biggest gainer was the 6.65 per cent MGS 2016 which gained 0.4 per cent to close the session at Lm113.87.
European stocks recover from early losses
Early yesterday, European stocks fell after the euro reached its highest ever against the dollar, deepening concern that profit growth will slow because of weaker exports. However, they recovered from earlier losses as Cable & Wireless Plc and Arcelor Mittal gained. Cable & Wireless, the UK's second-biggest phone company, climbed 4.3 per cent. Arcelor Mittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, rose 3.6 per cent.
The Bank of England relaxed restrictions on the amount of money financial institutions need to hold with the central bank, encouraging them to lend more to each other as it tries to reduce overnight borrowing costs.
US stock-index futures rose on speculation that General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. may gain concessions from the United Auto Workers union.
Japanese shares moved little, after the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Nikkei 225 closed 0.2 per cent higher, while the Topix was down 0.4 per cent. Both indices fell mildly on Wednesday on news of the resignation. But the stock markets were kept stable yesterday by the absence so far of any scandal behind Mr Abe's departure. There was speculation on Wednesday that his very sudden decision was spurred by a scandal that had not yet been revealed.
The financial news was compiled by Valletta Fund Management (Tel. 8007 2344) and Bank of Valletta plc (Tel. 2131 2020). BOV and VFM are licensed by the MFSA to conduct investment services business.